Sound Connections Therapy has facilitated a great deal of programming in Elementary and High School settings as well as for Autism Nova Scotia for toddlers through to young adults. Music therapy creates an environment designed to incorporate sensory and behavioral factors that encourage communication, flexibility, and motivation to support growth. The multi-dimensional and multi-directional intervention becomes a beneficial, playful experience and freer exploration of sound. This music making is a creative process, which can offer a sense of identity and independence, as well as adding potential leadership opportunities. Creative play can give a child a sense of power and discovering this creativity in people with autism can be facilitated with music.
Positive outcomes of the programs have included:
- reduced anxiety and stress, which provides positive changes in mood and emotional states;
- increased communication and vocal fluency;
- improved memory recall, which supports increased processing speed and executive functioning;
- meaningful social interactions and relationship development strengthened in group participation.
Specifically with autism spectrum disorder, music therapy fosters the development of adaptive environmental responses through auditory and visual stimuli through use of a variety of instruments. Their different timbres, shapes, sizes, colors, spatial location, means for extracting sounds, and how to arrange body and space in order to play. These all combine to address common IPP issues of:
- task organization and implementation
- ability to stay on task
- modulation from one task to another
- acceptance and making a variety of choices and sounds
- willingness to explore environment
- communicate desire and needs
- body in relation to space and sound
The success of the music therapy program is evident especially when one is given the opportunity to see these children during subsequent years. As they quickly recall previous experiences, and apply them to the here and now, they strive to continue in positively participating in sharing, turn-taking, and a general improvement in awareness of self-other.