Music Therapy for Children with Decreased Vision or Hearing


Do you have or know of a child with decreased vision and/or hearing? You’re likely not surprised to know that Music Therapy can be extremely beneficial for these kids! As a licensed Music Therapist, I can work with the family and the child’s healthcare team to effect real change in the child’s quality of life.

Music therapists use the structure and sensory input inherent in music to help create positive experiences and effect change in behavior. Music creates a change in the brain…it lights up the entire brain! It addresses multiple developmental and physical issues simultaneously to provide success-oriented opportunities for achievement and mastery.

Music creates tactile stimulation. For example, when a cymbal is struck, the vibrations can be felt by touching the cymbal. When a djembe drum is played, the body feels the vibrations, especially through the floor. Music can be felt, not just heard – this is important for children with impairments in hearing.

For children with sight and/or hearing impairments, basic skills can be hard to learn. A Music Therapist can work with the child to provide sensory stimulation, increase self-awareness, develop awareness of others (even in the absence of sound), increase attention span, increase the accuracy of motor skills, improve social interaction, and provide a means of emotional expression. (taken from Lucille Cormier)

The Music Therapy Center of California lists the “need areas” of children with hearing and/or sight impairment as the following and explains how Music Therapy can help with each:

Speech/Communication – The ability to communicate is, perhaps, the most important for children who are sight and/or hearing impaired. Music Therapy can allow these children to learn and develop communication skills by increasing vocalizations/speech patterns, pairing with sign language, and providing choice-making opportunities There are also great Braille music resources that aid in literacy through music experience.

Motor Skills – Music Therapy can provide opportunities to facilitate purposeful movement, allowing children to gather sensory information, communicate, and make choices. For example, the Music Therapist can create “walking music” that provides a steady beat. The music provides structure and can be used as a cue to start or stop. Co-treatment with a physical therapist, occupational therapist, or orientation and mobility specialist (O&M) enhances the effectiveness of music therapy and ensure that skills may be applied to other settings.

Social – Music Therapy provides an opportunity for social training by hearing and/or sight impaired children a positive experience with other peers and adults. This provides a success-oriented, normalized experience for children, giving them a more positive self-image. By participating in music groups and performances, the children feel more productive and engaged within society.

Cognitive –Teaching the whole body through body movements in order to perceive vibrations, rhythms, dynamics (or any musical element). Movement and music used together to motivate and help children control their own bodies can be a valuable means of expression for a child.

– Watch this Music Therapist work with a deaf and blind client using “haptics” – non-verbal communication through touch! She’s playing Debussy!

– See this Music Therapist as she works with sight and hearing -impaired children.

– Watch as a girl with the rare conditions Lebers Amaurosis and Joubert Syndrome explores the world through music – it’s inspiring to watch her progression over many months!

It’s my hope that these examples will give you insight into Music Therapy as a part of the treatment for your hearing and/or sight impaired child!

Kim McMillin

RN, MA, MT-BC, RPT, LMHC, LMFT (CO)
Licensed Mental Health Counselor, Board Certified Music Therapist
I am passionate about helping others to find the goodness within them and to heal the barriers that prevent them from embracing the Light of Goodness inside. Each of us comes into this world as a magnificent Sun. What often trips us up is that we learn to identify with the clouds -- ugly things...

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Spokane, WA 99202

Music therapy for autism and developmental disabilities serving the Spokane, WA area.
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