The benefits of music therapy in children with Down syndrome

Music therapy in children with Down syndrome offers great benefits. Promotes relaxation, improves behavior and facilitates skill development cognitive, sensorimotor, emotional, social and communicational.

These very positive effects help children feel more motivated. As a consequence, the probabilities that the little ones will be more and more involved in the activities proposed by the therapist multiply, so all are advantages.

Music therapy creates psychological and physiological responses that are difficult to obtain with other types of techniques. Furthermore, the language of music is interesting because, belonging to a non-verbal format, allows the arrival of complex messages in a simple way.

What is music therapy?

The World Federation of Music Therapy defines this discipline as the professional use of music and all its elements in environments that have to do with the medical, the educational and the everyday, both individually and in groups. The objective is to improve the quality of life, health and physical, social, communicative, emotional, intellectual and spiritual well-being.

Music therapy produces therapeutic and rehabilitative effects. For his part, Ostrosky (cited by Maroto, 2018) considers that this therapy promotes neurological recovery and fosters a good physical and emotional balance.

Music therapy has the ability to enhance the development of the person at an educational and emotional level: improves communication of emotions, reciprocal interaction, empathy and intimacy with the therapist. Given its great utility, below we take a closer look at some of the greatest benefits of music therapy in children with Down syndrome.

Music therapy is a known technique with application in various pathologies, both in childhood and in adulthood.

Read also: Down syndrome: what is it?

Cognitive development and music therapy in children with Down syndrome

Children with Down syndrome manifest a series of cognitive difficulties among which are intellectual disability (mild to moderate, with an IQ ranging from 35 to 70), slower processing of information and difficulties in interpreting it, as well as impediments to abstraction and generalization.

They also have a long response time with little initiative. There are problems understanding multiple instructions when they follow a sequential order and difficulty maintaining attention and concentration for a long period of time. Also, their auditory perception is lower than visual perception.

Music therapy allows them to improve their cognitive skills in the following way:

  • Encourage imagination and creativity.
  • Improves perception and auditory discrimination.
  • Promotes symbolic thinking.
  • Develop attention and memory.
  • Encourage initiative.
  • It favors the use of sequences.

Music therapy for the motor area

Children with Down syndrome have muscle hypotonia and lax ligaments. They also have difficulties in both fine and gross motor skills. Their actions are slow and it is difficult for them to climb or jump.

The assiduous practice of music therapy allows them to improve motor skills:

  • Promotes coordination and fosters body awareness.
  • Stimulates the use of the body as a tool for expression.
  • Develops fine and gross motor skills by improving the rate of motor response.
  • Promotes eye-hand coordination.
  • Release repressed energy.

The emotional level

Children with Down syndrome find in music therapy a space to work on their emotions deeper. Thus, this therapy helps them to be more in contact with them and find a way to express them. Likewise, they recognize the emotions of others and feel greater empathy.

They also release repressed feelings, relax, improve their self-esteem thanks to the achievements they achieve during activity, feel fulfilled, promote self-confidence, enhance their autonomy and generate positive moods.

Socialization with music therapy in Down syndrome

Children with Down syndrome tend to be very sociable and affectionate, but socialization can be affected by their difficulties with language and cognitive delay. Therefore, music therapy can help them:

  • Promote auditory, spatial and motor skills that can be used in other social contexts.
  • Develop communication skills such as participation, expression of affection, management of silence or regulation of turns in a conversation.
  • Promote better social behavior.

Various levels of life benefit from music therapy, so its reach is global in patients.

Read also: Children with Down syndrome: keys to a successful education

Music therapy in children with Down syndrome favors their development

We can conclude that music therapy is a very complete tool to favor the development process of children with Down syndrome. It offers a therapeutic space, not so much to focus on their special needs, but to foster their abilities. This is a great plus for developing security.

Secondly, the fact that this therapy is usually associated with a pleasant, even playful context, leads to a high level of involvement of the participants. This will make it easier for music therapy to bring them the maximum possible benefits.