Two Powerful Ways to Utilize Music Therapy in Early Intervention
Early Intervention programs can contract with a music therapist and bring in their services when a child may benefit. These referrals can be for individual music therapy or community parent child music therapy groups.
Individual Music Therapy
An Early Intervention program can contract with a music therapist or hire one on staff to provide music therapy evaluations and 1:1 sessions to those who will benefit the most. Because it is not a required service, music therapy is best utilized for those children who have not shown expected progress on their IFSP goals, and who require additional services in order to progress. Music Therapy may be just the service they need, and the intensity and frequency can vary based on the individual needs of the child.
Because music therapists address domains similar to speech, occupational, and physical therapists, collaboration can play a huge role in service provision. When a music therapist and speech therapist collaborate to address shared goals, a child can make substantial progress. While it is often difficult to pay for collaborative services, the professionals can at minimum communicate with one another and address shared goals at different times.
Parent Child Music Therapy Groups
REFERRAL TO OUTSIDE MUSIC THERAPY PROGRAMS in the COMMUNITY
According to data from the 2012 Utah Baby Watch Early Intervention Program Report, the children receiving Early Intervention services make the least progress in the area of positive social emotional skills and positive social relationships (with 69% of children showing improvement). This compared to 78% improving in acquisition and use of knowledge and skills and 77% improving in use of appropriate behaviors to meet their needs shows that more can be done to promote social emotional development in Early Intervention.
Music Therapy groups provide a natural environment for social emotional development. As the child and parent engage in music making, singing, movement, and instrument play, they learn to engage with peers and parents in a positive way. In fact, social development is the most significant increase noted by those who have participated in our parent child music therapy program. The children increase in confidence, ability to relate to others, express and regulate emotions, and willingness to approach and interact with peers.
At Harmony Music Therapy we provide group classes for children age 0-3 and their parents. These classes are designed to include typical peers—often the siblings of the children receiving Early Intervention services. Classes are led by a Board Certified Music Therapist (MT-BC) and do not follow an outlined curriculum, but rather focus on designing interventions to meet the unique needs of participants. The MT-BC develops a music therapy treatment plan for each child and works to address those goals during groups.
Children who participate in these groups make strides in a variety of areas including positive social emotional skills, acquisition and use of knowledge and skills (such as early language and communication), and use of appropriate behaviors to meet their needs.
The children attend the music classes for 12 weeks, during which time they are able to gain rapport and progress on their goals. This progress is shared with the Early Intervention team at the end of the 12 weeks and can be added into the IFSP. If certain children are found to respond especially well to music therapy they may continue for another 12 weeks in the group program, or be referred for individual music therapy services or consultation.
This is part 3 of a 4-part series on music therapy in Early Intervention programs. All related posts include: