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The Musical Sensory Experience

Matthew in Music NOV 08

For the past twenty years of being a Certified Music Therapist, I, Mattie, always knew that music would be a part of my life and family.  For many years I wrote goals and assessments and participated in Individual Education Plans for music therapy clients in various settings from schools to hospitals. I always thought I knew how to work with special needs until I actually had my second child who was diagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Disorder on the Autism spectrum. Wow, what a whole other experience!

For anyone who has ever dealt with a tantrum I feel your pain! Simple events were challenging such as meal times and getting dressed and forget about bath time and getting to bed!  The one thing that saved my sanity was to have a musical sensory experience routine with him each night to not only help him calm down but my entire family!  We began at the age of 2 and have continued it ever since, it works even today with him at the age of 5! After bath and book time was finished, the dreaded bed time was next.  Each night my son would have a tantrum over the simplest things such as a tag on a shirt, washing his hair, or just going to sleep.  Finally we discovered that using soft music, soft lighting, and using items such as a soft cloth, pillow or a sensory brush, which is an important part of an autism sensory diet, would truly reduce his tension and anxiety before bed.  Children with sensory processing disorder have a difficult time organizing their emotions. So we set up a bedtime routine that included the soft lights, quiet music or even sing to him his favorite song “The Moon Song” while giving him a soft massage.  This helped the whole family have a much happier bed time experience and a better good night sleep.

We were all excited we finally found a solution at home for our son’s tantrums before bedtime until we went on a cruise vacation for seven nights! After much research I found the greatest toys to help. Creating a musical sensory experience on the go was easier than I thought! Phew! We got him the best night light that is a soft pillow and has a colorful light display called Dream Lites by Pillow Pets, perfect! Then we combined that with a Discovery Kids MP3 Boom Box player where I can download all his favorite music and he can control them both independently with a touch of a button! It was wonderful!

So if you ever experienced a stressing bedtime routine, try a musical sensory environment. It can resolve even the most difficult tantrum then hopefully the whole family can enjoy a better night’s rest.

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