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K1Z 7G6
Ottawa, ON


Counterpoint Music Therapy is a health and wellness clinic in Ottawa where music is used skilfully as a therapeutic stimulus to achieve primarily non-musical treatment goals. 

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Music Therapy & Children with Special Needs

Music therapy for children with special needs works because interactive, therapeutic, music sessions are all about having fun while practising the skills that are most difficult. Children with special needs often struggle with necessary communication behaviours such as regular eye-contact, turn-taking, participating in shared activities, as well as fine and gross motor skills, and on-task behaviours. In a typical music therapy session, a child will practice succeeding at these skills while making music.

Sessions with Landon Coleman, MTA are characterized by high quality musical interventions aimed at specific and well-defined objectives. Each child has different strengths, challenges, and preferences, so these objectives are focused on the child’s strong points as well as the core areas affected by each child's diagnosis. Music therapy is an invaluable tool for your family!

For children with special needs, music can be a particularly effective therapeutic tool. It works so well because, through music therapy, music can be used to target four of the most basic difficulties that kids with developmental disabilities experience:

Counterpoint Music Therapist, Landon Coleman, using a "Question and Answer" musical improvisation game with a child on the spectrum.

Counterpoint Music Therapist, Landon Coleman, using a "Question and Answer" musical improvisation game with a child on the spectrum.

1. Apparent Lack of Desire to Communicate: Musical interactions can be used to nurture a communicative intent in the child. For example, a music therapist might use "question-answer" musical games, imitative improvisational interactions on instruments, or sung songs that have segments which require the child to respond to physical cues. In other words, music “creates a need” for communication in a child who might otherwise remain in an interiorized state. Even a child with ASD who has well-developed language skills might have trouble with knowing when and why he or she should communicate.

2. Difficulty with Social Interactions: Music can be used to practice and promote interaction. After the need to communicate has been established, a music therapist will use songs that make use of instruments, singing, or body percussion to help the child develop more meaningful ways of communicating

3. Inflexibility and Responsive Behaviours: Music can also be used to improve behaviour. As a reinforcer, music has the potential be a very effective tool in shaping behaviours. Music in combination with Applied Behavioural Analysis techniques creates an environment that is structured, effective, and engaging.

4. Academic Difficulties: Music is an effective carrier of information. How do we teach children the alphabet? Through song! In that same way, many children have benefited from a musical approach to learning.

Building on Strengths

Fortunately, music therapy also builds on the strengths of each child. For instance, in a recent study published in Autism, it was shown that children with Austism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) have better pitch discrimination and short and long melody recognition than control groups. This special skill-set makes music therapy interventions an activity which those children enjoy and in which they usually feel quite successful. Music is an area where children with developmental disabilities can really shine!