October 23, 2013 in Quotes
Music therapy is a powerful tool for helping children with special needs. “Research in music therapy supports its effectiveness in many areas such as: overall physical rehabilitation and facilitating movement, increasing people’s motivation to become engaged in their treatment, providing emotional support for clients and their families, and providing an outlet for expression of feelings,” explains the American Music Therapy Association.
Here are 5 ways that music therapy can make an impact in the life of mentally or physically delayed children.
1. Speech and Communication
Music therapy can have powerful benefits for helping to develop language skills. A behavioral analysis published in Music Therapy Perspectives showed that preschool children placed in early intervention music therapy programs showed “high on-task behavior during sessions and a high success rate in language development, […] cognitive concepts.”
Communication is encouraged during a music therapy session by goal-oriented interactions with the teacher and any peers that might be present as well. Simple instructions are given which then require some kind of response. And most importantly, music therapy involves singing which is a great way to practise vocalizing.
2. Motor and Sensory Skills
Another important benefit of music therapy is its benefits towards increasing agility of motor and sensory skills. Clapping, beating rhythms and playing with instruments are incredible ways to improve coordination and refine motor control.
In addition, music therapy has demonstrated a “significant effect on a patient’s perceived effectiveness of treatment,” according to a 2010 report by the American Music Therapy Association. This improved relaxation, respiration rate, anxiety levels and reduced physical pain.
3. Behavioral and Emotional
Music therapy is a method of addressing emotional and relational issues. Survey research on autistic participants in music therapy noted growth in behavioral and psychosocial skills, according to the Journal of Music Therapy in 2005. Parents and caregivers of the participants reported a positive increase in their children’s skills and responses after one year of exposure to music therapy.
4. Self-Confidence Boost
Music therapists set manageable goals to lead their students through. This leads to a boost in self-confidence as children experience success in following musical tasks and begin to experience making their own sounds and rhythmic patterns.
“Music therapy builds up a child’s self-esteem and feeds their spirit. With all the struggles that children with special needs face, it is so important to support them in this way. Music therapists are trained to create success-based activities that address developmental skills,” writes Ryan Judd who holds his master’s degree in music therapy and is the founder of music therapy group The Rhythm Tree.
5. Outlet for Expression
Music is a fantastic outlet for a person’s pent up feelings. For participants who struggle with communication and language, music can be just the right release for demonstrating their excitement, anger, worry, sadness or any range of emotions which they might not have properly communicated before.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta, a neurosurgeon and chief medical correspondent for CNN, wrote that in his personal experience music therapy proved “emotionally uplifting.” Music can be an alternative language for helping patients let go of frustration or anxiety and feel freer and more connected.
So whether it is finding a certified music therapist in Chicago or beginning drum lessons in San Diego, music can have an incredible impact in the life of your child.
Image from differentdream.com
Any married couple would tell you that parenting as a couple takes work. What with sleepless nights, stressful days taking turns taking care of your child and endless decisions to make about your child’s education, health, extracurricular activities and so on.
It becomes even more complicated when you are raising a child with special needs. The original chores and duties are piled up with appointments with the therapists, seeking out special childcare and simply learning about the diagnosis of your child. All these issues could become a burden on a marriage if it is not dealt with promptly and with good principles. We asked some couples to give us honest insights into how parenting a special needs child has affected their marriage, and came up with a list of tips to help your marriage go from standstill to smooth.
1. Set aside time every day to chat one-on-one
Communicate, communicate, communicate. How many disputes and arguments are because couples not taking the time to talk to each other and release their thoughts and feelings? Our emotional and mental health are nurtured when we come to each other and be intentional in encouraging and acknowledging each other’s efforts.
“It would be much better if our communication were more honest or open,” Jocelyn Huang, mother of 2 daughters, one with cerebral palsy, said about her marriage.
Being honest about what you are feeling being a parent day-to-day and setting aside time to talk daily could take away frustration and grudges that might have been built up during the day.
2. Preserve intimacy
Meeting your child’s needs will take up a lot of your energy and time, but that does not mean that the stress should take away your devotion from your spouse. Keep your spouse a priority; make it a point to hug and kiss him/her as affirmations daily; invest in baby sitters to have your relationship insured with weekly dates.
“We don’t tend to be as intimate because caring for a child with special needs puts more strain on you,” Huang said. “It takes more effort to maintain a healthy relationship.”
3. Face challenges of your child as a team
“It was really hard for my husband to come to terms with my daughter’s diagnosis,” Huang said. “He used to not bring it up, so he does not have to think about it. However, the more honest we are to our feelings and fears, the easier it is to come to terms with the situation itself. If you are in denial, acknowledge that you are in denial.”
The couple needs to be in a team in order for the child to gain support from both father and mother. It is also crucial for the wellbeing of your marriage to be on the same page about your child’s situation.
4. Stick to the positives
It’s not all doom and gloom. Special needs children are huge blessings and could succeed hugely if given the proper equipping and opportunities. Moreover, devoting attention to your child does not necessarily have to pull a couple apart, it could also bring them closer with each other.
“My daughter holds us together as a family, we become more committed,” Huang said. “We have the commitment to stay together.”
5. Be around a supportive community
It makes a world of difference when you surround yourselves with a positive group of friends.
“My Christian friends around me provide much support,” Huang said. “With the same faith and cultural background, these people have a good effect on me. Having parents with similar experiences and parents who have gone through the whole process also helps.”
Family members are also invaluable in providing practical support.
“We have an older daughter who helps us in any way that she can,” said Ilinka Vukovic, whose daughter also has cerebral palsy. “My husband also spends all his time taking care of my daughter’s medical treatments.”
The best way for a child to receive love is to see his/her parents love each other. A good marriage is crucial to a child’s wellbeing and to his/her parents’ physical, emotional and mental health. Staying in love while parenting a child with special needs takes work, it takes intentionality, but it would be very, very worth it.
How do you keep your marriage smooth and sailing? Do you have any tips to keep the love burning while parenting? We would LOVE to know! Leave your comments below!
When a child is born with special needs, he would be starting therapy at a young age in which he would be given exercises to do. As a result what are formed in his mind are two different things: one is his life at kindergarten school or at home with parents where he could do anything the way he wants to; and another one is therapy where he is asked to do a routine of exercises.
The question which we should be asking parents is, “Did we exercise as kids or babies?” The answer is probably “No”.
When children are developing they are usually not exercising, they are functioning.
Through the stages of development, God has created the nervous system to take us through the stages of development where we accommodate to new positions. We learn how to get into these positions by transferring from one posture into another in order to function in each one of them.
As a result, we eventually become mobile in all positions including vertical ones such as standing up and walking. But we have not been exercising.
If a child is given exercises, and as a parent you guide him to do it, e.g. twenty times a day to strengthen his trunk, this will not teach your child how to roll, how to stand up, how to walk.
As an example, there has been a case which happened on a Russian sports field a long time ago. When the head coach of a famous soccer team was changed and a new coach was brought into the field, he said that all of the soccer players have weak legs. So the players were forced to go to the gym where they built leg muscles. When they got on the field, all of them had huge, big, strong leg muscles, but they couldn’t even maneuver the ball.
The point is, every bodily function is different. In each particular sport, there is a specific type of training for athletes, which will not fit into another type of sport.
Hence any child has to be taught, not through exercise routines, but in the practicing of functions at home, which has to be incorporated into daily routine life, every second, every minute. Your child will soon acquire these functions in order to become completely independent in life.
May 29, 2013 in All Blogs
It’s hard to believe that the month of May is quickly coming to a close. As we prepare to enter into June, the realities of being out and about in the sun raise a number of pressing issues. Most parents who are worried about protecting their children from the sun’s harmful rays commonly douse their children in layer after layer of sunscreen, reapplying when “needed.” However, trusted authorities such as Health Canada consider sunscreens a kind of last resort during “unavoidable exposure” to the sun.
A surprising reality check for many, the benefits of using sunscreen have become increasingly questionable over the years. Despite more and more people using sunscreens, the rate of first-time melanoma diagnoses continue to rise. This number has actually tripled over the past 35 years according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG). To make matters worse, it is believed that any protective benefits sunscreens may provide against the sun are outweighed by their harmful side effects.
Vitamin A is a common ingredient in many sunscreens rooted in the belief that is possesses anti-aging properties. However, the National Toxicology Program has found that Vitamin A can also cause an adverse reaction when combined with sunlight that actually speeds the growth of cancerous tumors. Oxybenzone is another chemical filter used in many sunscreens, this ingredient has been found to soak through the skin, which can trigger allergic reactions. Oxybenzone may even function as a hormone disrupter, having been found in both urine and breast milk samples (Calafat 2008).
Rather than giving a potentially harmful chemical-filled product such as sunscreen the absolute authority to determine when it is appropriate to go out into the sun, there are other methods that are just as (if not more) effective. The hours between 11am and 4pm are when the sun’s rays are at their strongest, limiting the time spent in direct sunlight by finding a shaded area will give you chemical-free protection from the sun when its rays are at their most dangerous.
Regardless of the time of day, the UV index is also an important indicator of the strength of the sun’s rays. If the UV index is higher than 3, wearing protective loose-fitting clothing and sunglasses that provide 100% UVA and UVB protection is an effective alternative to repeatedly slathering on the chemicals.
Some parents may still feel that it’s necessary to use some sort of sunscreen on their children. In this event, stick to the topical lotions rather than sprays or powders because the FDA has expressed concerns regarding the safety of these products. Also, the false sense of security that accompanies a high SPF number is not necessarily going to protect you any better than a lower SPF sunscreen – these products simply contain higher concentrations of the same chemicals. Sunscreens with an SPF of around 30 are more than adequate. The EWG provides an annual list of sunscreens which meet the criteria listed above. When in doubt, always read the list of ingredients on the back of your sunscreen bottle before use, keeping in mind that they are commonly listed by quantity, the first few ingredients are present in higher quantities that the last few on the list. Having fun in the sun is that much more beneficial when you are not inadvertently exposed to harmful chemicals.
The Environmental Working Group – Best Sunscreens
Health Canada – Sun Safety Basics
The Weather Network – UV Report (by Region)
The National Toxicology Program
Calafat – 2008
Calafat AM, Wong L-Y, Ye X, Reidy JA, Needham LL. 2008. Concentration of the sunscreen agent, benzophenone-3, in residents of the United States: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2003-2004. Environ Health Perspect 116(7): 893-897.