Live Music helps disabled children to socialize

SINGING, dancing, drumming and playing the guitar to children with disabilities helps perk up their social and motor skills, Australian therapists have found.

For one hour each week, Queensland University of Technology’s Kate Williams and a team of music therapists would sit on the floor with a group of immobilize children under five years old, joined by their mothers.

"We have a guitar and we use our voice … and bring along a whole lot of instruments that are easy to get to and motivating," said Ms Williams.

"We’re using some familiar, early childhood repertoire – Twinkle Twinkle and Baa Baa (Black Sheep) and what not – to get them at ease and using their hands for doing events.

"But we also compose and write a lot of our own songs because we want to be targeting particular aspects of the family relationship."

The Queensland University of Technology-based researcher interviewed the mothers of the 201 participants, who had a variety of disabilities including autistic disorders, Down syndrome and cerebral palsy.

The parents said they had learnt to use music to sidetrack and calm their children, and noticed their own mental health had improved.

Ms Williams also made clinical observations over the course of the study.

"We were observing really positive changes in parenting behaviors and the relationships between the parents and children," she told AAP.

"It’s very easy to see what these children can’t do and where they’re lacking in their development but, I think we found in music therapy sessions, parents are really confident to see what (the children) actually can do with motivation.

"Even children who couldn’t talk would vocalize.

"The focus is really strength, based on what people can do."

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