Music Therapy and Learning Disabilities

Category: Education

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Music Therapy & Learning Disabilities:

Music Therapy & Learning Disabilities By: Emily Metschke

What is a Learning Disability:

What is a Learning Disability It is a neurological disorder. difference in the way their brain is wired. process information differently. Children with learning disabilities are just as smart as peers. Have difficulty: reading, writing, spelling, reasoning and organizing information. Need special attention in these areas.

What is a L.D. continued...:

What is a L.D. continued... A learning disability can NOT be cured or fixed. It is a lifelong issue. However, with support and intervention can be successful.

How can People Help.:

How can People Help. In order to promote and lead those affected by learning disabilities parents, teachers and other professionals can: encourage strengths know their weaknesses work together with professionals to learn about strategies to deal with specific difficulties

Facts about Learning Disabilities:

Facts about Learning Disabilities One in seven Americans (15%), has some type of learning disability (National Institute of Health). As many as 80% of students with LDs have reading problems. Learning disabilities often run in families.

Who is Affected?:

Who is Affected? Pre-school to Adults Have different symptoms depending on age Better to catch it early sooner caught, sooner fixed. Better chance of success later on in life.

Common Learning Disabilities:

Common Learning Disabilities Dyslexia - language-based disability in which a person struggles understanding written words. Leads to difficulty in reading. Dyscalculia - mathematical disabilty in which a person has a difficult time solving arithmetic problems and graspingmath concepts. Dysgraphia - writing disability where a person finds it hard to form letters or write within a defined space.

Common Learning Disabilities Continued...:

Common Learning Disabilities Continued... Auditory and Visual Processing Disorders - sensory disabilities in which a person has difficulty understanding language despite normal hearing and vision. Nonverbal Learning Disabilities - neurological disorder which causes problems with visual-spatial, intuitive, organizational and evaluative processing functions.

Secondary Disabilities:

Secondary Disabilities Learning disabilities come as a result of having a disability, such as autism or down syndrome. Because of Learning disability other developmental problems surface. Socially and behaviorally

Music Therapy & Learning Disabilities:

Music Therapy & Learning Disabilities Video Explaining the use of MT early on in child development to help with all forms of language. Music Therapy is used to help students learn the alphabet as well as reinforce reading and literary skills

Music Therapy Interventions:

Music Therapy Interventions Music Therapists use various active and receptive intervention techniques Depending on the needs and preferences of the specific individuals

Intervention Techniques:

Intervention Techniques Singing Playing Instruments Rhythmic based activities Improvising Composing/ Songwriting Imagery based experiences Listening to music Techniques include, but are not limited to:


Singing Assists in development of articulation. In group setting can improve social skills. For individuals with difficulty speaking, music may saturate the music centers in the brain promoting the ability to sing and better talk.

Playing Instruments:

Playing Instruments Can improve gross and fine motor skills. Can enhance cooperation and attention. May develop increase well-being and self-esteem.

Rhythmic Based Activities:

Rhythmic Based Activities Create Order and Instruction to follow Improve range of motion Rhythm and beat “prime” the motor areas of the brain


Improvising Creative, nonverbal means means of expressing thoughts no musical training needed very easy and approachable Where learning ability is limited the opportunity to experiment with instruments, sounds, and other mediums allow for mastery of new skill. Source of self satisfaction


Composing/Songwriting Share feelings, ideas and experiences Helps communicate, and form social bonds Foster a sense of identification Help to work on writing and reading skills.

Imagery Based Experience:

Imagery Based Experience Provides opportunity to interact with conscious or unconscious material present in persons life. Ability to express themselves. personally and creatively Can help with auditory and visual disorders

Listening to Music:

Listening to Music Helps develop cognitive skills Such as, attention and memory Motivates to participate in discussion and social activities. Help to produce correct pronunciation of words

Music Therapy CAN Help!:

Music Therapy CAN Help! Music therapy can make a huge difference for children with learning disabilities. These children can achieve joy and security in making music. Can assist them to come to maturity in many ways by implementing therapeutic music.

Characteristics of MT Helpful:

Characteristics of MT Helpful Captivates attention easily. Provides enjoyable and meaningful context for repetition. Excellent memory aid Stimulates different parts of the brain Works with all age groups distract from anxiety and discomfort for example, in speech disorders

How it Works.:

How it Works. Brains area that processes music, also process language, auditory perception, attention, memory and motor control. Music can drive complex patterns of interaction among them

How it Works cont.:

How it Works cont. Exposure and experience with music changes the brain by creating new and more efficient connections between neurons in the brain. Acts as a rewiring process, bypassing damaged or underdeveloped areas. Provides new ways to access and acquire important developmental and learning skills.

MT can contribute to::

MT can contribute to: Reading skills Feelings and response Reasoning ability Motor control and physical well- being Positive attitude Promotion of communication Language development

Developmental Issues:

Developmental Issues Music Therapy can help work on these issues and in turn help the individual with the learning disability. Bettering their life and involvement, socially and in scholastic terms.

Developmental Benefits:

Developmental Benefits Social Interactions Speech/Communication Academics retain information involvement with peers Behavior Task achievements Aware of Surroundings


Social Enhances social skills such as, following directions, appropriate responses in social situations and group experience with peers Raise self-esteem with peers, by group singing or composing.


Speech/Communication Practice and discriminate between sounds Develop receptive and expressive speech and language skills. Communicate information and knowledge Develop an understanding of patterns and language.


Academics Can be used for mnemonic devices Help memorize scholarly tasks Example: times tables or alphabet fun musical songs can help memorize Music is motivating and captivating - leads to increased compliance and being more on-task


Behavior Improve choice making skills More on-task behavior Listen and more compliant to directions Help maintain focus and concentration


Conclusion Even though learning disabilities can’t be cured, with proper support and intervention people with a LD can achieve success in school, work, relationships and in the community.

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