One of the reasons that music has quickly become a tool used in autism therapy is that it can stimulate both hemispheres of our brain, rather than just one. This means that a therapist can use a song or instrument to support cognitive activity so that we can build self-awareness and improve relationships with others. Music encourages communicative behavior and can encourage interaction with others, which is something that autistic children have great difficulty with. If we look closely at the way that a band works, it is obvious that the instruments must all interact with one another, but the player only needs to interact with the instrument at first. For children dealing with autism, interacting with others can be difficult, but through introducing an instrument to their therapy, they may bond first with the object and then open up to others interacting with their instruments as well.
Children with asd often have difficulty communicating because they struggle with the ability to discern non-verbal cues such as tone of voice and facial expression. Music therapy has been recommended to encourage the development of timing and motor skills, which then has been shown to help the development of emotional communication.
“increased appropriate social behavior and decreased inappropriate, stereotypical, and self-stimulatory behaviors; increased verbalizations, gestures, and com- prehension; and communicative acts and engagement with others, among other positive effects”
“Rhythm training has been used to address the timing deficits in language, motor control, perception, and cognition encountered in children with dyslexia”
a recent study showed that drumming for 60 minutes (2, 30 minute sessions) a week improved motor control while drumming. Improved grip strength was shown, thus helping with daily tasks like homework. His study also found drumming to improve attention in the classroom. The largest improvement seen in the study was of communication skills with both peers and adults.