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Music therapy: grounding tips for kids

Children in New Hampshire recently came back to school from a week of spring vacation. While vacations can be a great time to relax and recharge they are also a giant change in routine for children with autism spectrum disorders who often benefit from routine and structure.

When kids return to school it can be difficult for the first few days as kids readjust to being back. Before break maybe a student could sit and engage for 30 minutes and now he is struggling to remain seated for 5 minutes. Children with sound sensitivities may have had a week of calm and quite and now suddenly they're back in a classroom with 10 classmates.

During this week after vacation we make sure that music therapy sessions are a time to become grounded.

What we find useful:

-Offer sensory items (weighted lap pads, sensory cushion, fidgets)

-Session is familiar and predictable

-Songs are grounding (slow steady tempo)

-Volume is low *even if there is excess sound in the classroom my voice and guitar always remain quite. Bringing the volume up to carry the sound over the voices will only raise volume (and anxiety) in the class.

-Sensory based movement activities: steady and rhythmic patting, brushing, squeezing, and cross lateral activities

-Hold off on instruments: We hold off on passing out instruments on days when anxiety and/or volume is high. Adding small percussion instruments or drums to a big group where not everyone is in a grounded safe space can be very stressful for some children.

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