Text by Rick McVicar
Music can bring speech to life from someone with developmental disabilities who cannot talk, according to a YouTube video featuring Higher Octave Healing, a music therapy organization in Tempe, Ariz.
The video shows Dustin Davis, a young man who has developmental disabilities, strumming a guitar while a music therapist holds the guitar and sings. The video is titled, “Music Therapy Treatment for Those with Developmental Disabilities/Cronkite News," June 10, 2019.
Dustin’s father, Denning Davis, describes the progress his son has made because of music therapy.
When Dustin began to speak, “that was a miracle to me,” Denning said. He noted that Dustin “has a love for music.”
Taylor Page, an intern at Higher Octave Healing, said music therapists set nonmusical goals for their clients, such as improvements in speech. Therapists work with music that is preferred by their clients. In Dustin’s case, that is 1980s rock, such as Journey and Queen.
Tim McAlee, a neurologist and therapist at Higher Octave Healing, said in the video that people progress in different ways.
“Sometimes there are little breakthroughs, sometimes there are aha moments,” McAlee said.
According to the Higher Octave Healing website, the organization helps people with addiction recovery, hospice, dementia, Alzheimer’s and mental health as well as developmental disabilities.
Music therapy has several benefits for people with developmental disabilities, according to a website hosted by Infinity Music Therapy Services.
“For individuals with developmental disabilities, music still remains a natural part of their brain and body,” the Infinity article states.
Besides using singing to improve speech, playing instruments can improve coordination and fine motor skills. Group musical activities can increase socialization skills.
Dancing with scarves can be used to improve eye-hand coordination. Music also helps with interpreting emotions, according to the Infinity Music Therapy Services website.
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