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ADHD Natural Treatment: Music Therapy

Traditional behavioral therapy is not the only therapeutic program that can treat children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.  Over the past decade, music therapy has become a creative and popular approach to helping children learn mental skills, appropriate behavior, and avenues for expression and creativity.  Like physical therapy and occupational therapy, music therapy is a well-established health profession driven by science.  Its basic premise is to use the therapeutic powers of music to balance behavioral, psychological, social, or cognitive functions. For children with ADHD and other developmental disorders, music therapy provides a rich variety of musical experiences in an appropriate environment to facilitate the development of their skills and effect positive changes in behavior. But how exactly can music therapy accomplish all this?

The effectiveness of this method lies in the medium. Music is a universal language that can establish a calm, non-threatening environment conducive to change, learning, and expression. The novelty of using music as a therapeutic medium is often a pleasant surprise for most children.  Their curious nature allows their attention to be easily captured and sustained. Since music is very malleable and versatile, children who have difficulties expressing themselves in verbal language can use music to participate non-verbally. It works to the therapist's advantage as well; music therapists can easily meet children where they are and help them go where they want to be.  

Since both hemispheres of the brain process music, the mental activity involved in processing auditory stimuli facilitates cognitive functioning and remediation of some speech and language deficits.   Depending on the procedure, music therapy has the capacity to re-train the auditory receptive process. The rhythmic aspect of music also provides a child with a structure to organize movements and participation, which fosters impulse control, focus, and group cohesion.  

Finally, music therapy can provide an opportunity for creative expression. Many children diagnosed with ADHD and behavioral disorders are multi-talented individuals with an ear for music.  Besides re-training the brain and helping with behavior, the sessions can be used to encourage these talents.  But even if your child is not musically inclined, he or she can still benefit from music therapy for the reasons explained above. In fact, many music therapy patients cannot carry a tune or play an instrument! 

A music therapy session is done either individually with a therapist or in small groups.  In both modes, a music therapist will engage the child through singing, moving, playing instruments, and other creative activities organized in a structured, systematic manner.  The structure provided by the program is crucial to initiating the desired responses, behaviors, and goals.  At the same time, music therapy provides a familiar environment that encourages expression and positive interpersonal reaction.  

Consider making music therapy a part of your child's holistic treatment plan for overcoming ADHD.