Winter Wiggles: music therapy for sensory needs
Music can help with those winter wiggles! As we head into the snowy season here in Maine and New Hampshire we tend to see bodies get a little extra wiggly! When children don’t have the opportunity to get outside to run around, jump, and climb their bodies may become extra wiggly. When they do not have the proprioceptive and vestibular input they need to regulate their bodies we often see a decrease in attention and listening skills and and increase in behaviors and rough play in the classroom as bodies seek out proprioceptive and vestibular input.
At this time of year we also have school cancellations due to the weather. Snow days can be exciting but also throw off schedules for kids who benefit from structure and routine. Today students in Maine returned to school after two days off due to snow cancelations. Music therapy groups were a great tool to help regulate bodies and provide the structure and routine that is so beneficial to children, especially children with autism spectrum disorders.
In our music therapy groups today it was important to keep our sessions structured and provide our usual visual schedule and visual timer. We always begin with a hello song followed by a sensory-motor activity however on days like today we added an extra sensory motor song at the beginning. Music helps to prime and time movements and provides a structure and predictability so children know how and when to move. During music we teach kids how to self regulate with movement songs that target brushing arms/legs, squeezing arms, steady pat and cross hands for cross lateral movement and squeezing hands. We also include taking deep breaths into several of our songs.
We always have our weighted blankets and sensory cushions on hand for students who benefit from these added sensory tools.
Following the sensory motor songs there is a change in the room. The students are engaged and listening. Their bodies have become calm and vocalizations have decreased. Once sensory needs are met, the students are set up for successful learning.