Music therapy and early childhood special education

Source: American Music Therapy Association

With more than 30 years experience of using music to reach children of all abilities, we experience every day the profound impact of music, including how music can be used in early childhood special education. Last year NPR’s Talk of the Nation featured a discussion with licensed music therapists who use music to treat stress and speech disorders. In addition to highlighting personal experiences in practicing music therapy, these music therapists discussed the latest research that showed music therapy can:

  • Decrease anxiety levels in cancer patients and people with heart disease
  • Improve quality of life in cancer patients and patients at the end of life
  • Reduce heart rate, respiratory rate, and blood pressure
  • Help people who have lost expressive language communicate through singing

Children with autism and music therapy

One of the callers, a parent with two children with autism shared her family’s experience with music therapy:

My son, my 6-six-year-old son, basically did not speak. He would string maybe two words together. That was his idea of a sentence. I walked into a pet store one day, and he sang from beginning to end the song “Slippery Fish.” It had seven stanzas. And I—my jaw hit the floor—and I went back to his access liaison with the state, and I said he doesn’t speak, yet he sang this song. She goes he needs music therapy….

We have had eight different music therapists now…my child, my nonverbal child, the one that spoke like two words together with his sentence, he speaks, he communicates, he can give us his wants.

I mean, he’s not talkative. He’s not—but the music therapist, she comes twice a week. This has made such a huge difference to our family, to our life, his ability to be educated, to provide self-care.”

To hear the show, Talk of the Nation: “Treating Stress, Speech Disorders with Music,” in its entirety or to read the transcripts, go here.

Early childhood special education curriculum uses music to teach children

Our special education curriculum, ABC Music & Me, uses music to teach children of all abilities early literacy and language, social and emotional skills, and to strengthen fine and gross motor skills, and more. ABC Music & Me is not a therapeutic program, however, many music therapists use or recommend ABC Music & Me or Kindermusik curricula to families whose children experience physical, emotional, cognitive, or social challenges. Students with special needs who use our early childhood special education curriculum show gains in literacy and language skills.

Special needs teachers appreciate the supplemental strategies guide, Meeting Special Needs, organized unit-by-unit and lesson-by-lesson, that suggests activity adaptations for children with particular needs or impairments. Plus, our exclusive customer website includes the tools teachers need for students’ IEPs, including IEP objective descriptors for easy cut-and-paste and IEP skills booster index.

For more information about using ABC Music & Me as an early childhood special education curriculum, email us at

One Reply to “Music therapy and early childhood special education”

  1. I am a licensed music teacher who is working with PreK Autism Spectrum students. I am interested in learning more about your resources.

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