has been awarded the
Bridges4Kids ACCESS Award
We recently had had a serendipitous experience on a trip we
took to visit dear friends in the Grain Belt. Our “traveling
companion” on the plane (the woman in the window seat) was a
recently retired music professor. She told us how she was
looking forward to doing research in her retirement on the
relationship between right and left-brain learners and music.
It was all Greek to us.
At our destination airport we boarded the airport shuttle and
our new traveling companion was a woman who, after a long
career as a teacher, was now providing paraprofessional
services to children who have autism. The airport van dropped
us off at the home of our friend’s son for dinner.
Our host for the evening was a young man who has autism. Our
arrival day was music therapy day for our host, and he invited
us to join him for the session before we sat down to eat. What
unrestrained exuberance we saw in him. The joy – true joy –
was contagious. Even now, we struggle to find words that
faithfully describe how music transfixed and transformed our
host for 45 minutes, and set him and us on a bright path
toward supper and our next days.
When we got home this month’s book, “Music Therapy, Sensory
Integration and the Autistic Child,” by Dorita S. Berger, was
waiting for us. It seems the whole trip serendipitously
connected us to the positive power of music in the life of
people who have autism. How could we not write this review
“Music Therapy, Sensory Integration and the Autistic Child”
does a master job of explaining music therapy and its
benefits. It’s an unwritten language that opens wide doors of
communication, understanding and skill building for children
who have autism – and we think children in general.
Berger’s book opens with a concise, 8-page description of
sensory systems, and how autism exists in its own sensory
realm. Anyone wishing to discover this facet of autism will
find this section illuminating. The book otherwise is well
organized and directed to explaining how music therapy acts as
a devise that will enhance development of numerous educational
related skills, including spontaneous and appropriate physical
response to stimuli; self-management of behavior’ self-esteem;
sequential memory and recall of information; temp/rhythm;
gross and fine motor skills, to name a few.
Berger includes sample goals and objectives for each of the
developmental areas. Her text explains the needs and benefits
in a way that parents, advocates and professionals can use to
support their requests for IEP directed music therapy
services. Each subject area contains a useful listing of other
sources for those who seek additional information.
In the past we have referred to tool kits and vital tools for
successful parent advocacy. Berger’s book – and our trip to
the Grain Belt – has opened our eyes to the vast possibilities
music therapy presents to children needing skill building
experiences. It isn’t about learning to play an instrument or
to sing, it’s about using music to open the channels of
communication, physical development and emotional experience.
Now that our eyes have been opened to the power of music
therapy through our friend, we will evaluate its use in all
future IEPs we are involved in. We cannot say enough for the
power and value of music therapy. We feel the same way about
“Music Therapy, Sensory Integration and the Autistic Child.”
We excitedly recommend it and award it the Bridges4Kids Book
We have developed a sample letter that parents and advocates
can use to request that a school district evaluate a student
for music therapy services. The letter, labeled “Ltr
requesting music therapy evaluation” may be found on the
Bridges4kids website, at