Kirby has been loving music therapy

I am so lucky to get to work with him twice a week, and because of that, I am seeing a lot of progress! Right now we are focusing on communication, verbal and nonverbal. Kirby definitely has the ability to express his interest or disinterest in something, but you have to be able to decipher his facial expressions. The ultimate goal is get Kirby to say “yes” and “no” when he is offered a toy or song choice. Being able to express this choice would give Kirby much more independence than he currently has.

Encouraging Vocalization

Kirby loves Old MacDonald. We sing this song every session, and it is always one of his favorites. Originally, singing with Kirby was intended to encourage vocalizations in general, but now we are focusing on verbalizing on cue. Kirby has a great understanding of this. After just a couple of sessions Kirby has figured out that when I stop playing, I am waiting for a response from him. Originally, he would try to shake all the instruments, while studying me to see if that was what I wanted. After accidentally verbalizing, then seeing my response of delight, Kirby has realized that I want him to verbalize when I stop the music mid phrase.

More Time

When cuing Kirby to sing, it is important for me to realize that he will need time. It may seem to me that I have waited a long time for him to respond, but to him, that might be just enough time to process the “question.” I will sing “E – I – E – I…” then typically wait 10 – 15 seconds before recognition dawns on his face, and he says “Oh!” As the song repeats, this wait time gets shorter and shorter. Kirby realizes that I am trying to get him to sing, so he does!

This is a technique that we use a lot in therapy. Instead of asking a question, we may sing it. The unfinished musical phrase encourages a response much more effectively than just speaking. Most people have a hard time not finishing a musical phrase that they are familiar with. This is part of what makes music therapy so effective when working with this population.

Stay tuned for updates on Kirby!