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How Does Music Therapy Benefit People with Rett Syndrome?

written by: brandieewine • edited by: Paul Arnold • updated: 11/27/2010

Music therapy is a popular and effective treatment for Rett syndrome. Each step is customized to fit the individual. Once the session is over it is important that the treatment continues at home.

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    How Does Music Therapy Benefit People With Rett Syndrome?

    Rett syndrome can be a devastating diagnosis to the families of those affected by it. Because most girls develop normally initially it can come as a complete shock. While several therapies have been identified as helpful for individuals, music therapy for Rett syndrome is one of the most well known.

    Music therapy helps children to maintain awareness of their environment, improve communications and hand functioning and increase verbalization, eye contact and focus. It also decreases behavioral agitation, and is relaxing and fun for the patient.

    One of the major concerns for those with Rett syndrome is delayed response times. Music therapy has been proven to assist in increasing those times. Each individual music session is tailored to the individual to ensure the best results and enjoyment. For maximum benefit there are many steps that must be completed prior to, during and after a music therapy session for Rett Syndrome.

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    Before The Session

    Prior to beginning a music therapy session the therapist will meet and collaborate with the family of the individual who has Rett syndrome. An assessment will be conducted to determine the best methods to use for each person. Factors such as the musical preferences of the family and abilities of the person receiving the treatment will be taken into consideration. It is at that point that a plan will be officially formed. It is always important to remember that music therapy extends beyond the individual dealing with Rett syndrome to the entire family.

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    During the Music Therapy for Rett Syndrome Session

    While treatments are individualized to fit each person, there are certain parts of music therapy that are integral to the session. Sessions can be conducted at school, home, or whatever location is the most comfortable for the patient and family. Generally they consist of singing and the music therapist will either play instruments alone or the patient will assist.

    This is based solely on the individual needs of the patient. Music therapy sessions also consist of listening to music, musical songs, and stories. There are visual aids to assist with the process. There will be a general focus on relaxation techniques for increased reception. The relaxation techniques will be customized for each individual patient based upon the music therapist's assessment of the needs of the child. Attention is focused on improving reaction times as well as hand control. Music therapy offers the unique opportunity for non-verbal individuals to communicate through music.

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    Following The Session

    Following a session information will be gathered and the results will be used to continue to customize an effective music therapy program. In a school setting, an IEP will generally be constructed prior to the therapy with a list of goals and expectations. These will then be regularly monitored to ensure progression with the therapy.

    Families are encouraged to continue the music therapy outside of the normal therapy session times. Emphasis is placed on the importance of playing music and engaging in music therapy in the home with all family members.

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    Resources

    http://www.rettsyndrome.org/music-as-communication.html

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3087187