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Can music lessons benefit kids with ADHD and Autism?

Updated: Mar 16

According to research, music can significantly impact our mood, thoughts, and behaviour. Listening to music, playing instruments, or singing can help us feel more relaxed, manage negative emotions, and reduce stress, among other things.

Music lessons in Toronto can be a fantastic way to help children with autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder manage their emotions and feel more relaxed, calm, and focused.

Autistic children learning music in Canada

Teaching Music to Children with Autism


Music lessons promote skills children need for education, self-regulation, and social interaction.


Children who are on the Autism spectrum experience persistent developmental difficulties that affect learning, behaviour, emotional regulation, and social interactions. Autism causes cognitive, social, and emotional challenges, ranging from mild to severe symptoms.


Unlike typically developing children, children with ASD have trouble focusing, remembering, organizing, and regulating emotions. They may also find it hard to switch from one activity to the next, follow simple instructions, and stay focused.

So, when preparing music lessons, it is important to get to know the students, learn about their strengths and needs, and develop an individualized plan for working with individual students. Also, children with autism have sensory sensitivities. As music is a multisensory experience, it can be tailored to the child’s specific sensory needs.



Children with ASD may display aggressive behaviour because they do not know how to communicate their feelings or deal with stressful situations. They may have meltdowns and temper tantrums, and kick, bite, or throw things.


Managing such behaviour might thus be challenging at times. Music lessons in Toronto can be an excellent strategy for managing challenging behaviours in children with autism, as music can help alleviate anxiety, improve brain function, and promote an overall sense of relaxation and calmness.


Music Lessons for Children with ADHD


ADHD is a neurodevelopmental condition that causes brain differences, manifesting itself through ongoing patterns of:

  • Inattention (difficulty focusing)

  • Hyperactivity (excessive fidgeting)

  • Impulsivity (risky and hurried decisions, social insensitivity)

According to research, children with ADHD experience difficulty learning, focusing, and sticking to tedious or challenging tasks because their executive functions (attention, cognitive flexibility, memory, and cognitive control, etc.) develop more slowly than their peers.


Moreover, ADHD can affect the child’s self-esteem, behaviour, school performance, and relationships. They may get easily distracted and sidetracked in class, losing their focus, especially if asked to perform repetitive and uninteresting tasks.


Studies show that music can help children with ADHD. It can, for example, increase neurotransmitter dopamine levels in the brain, improving focus and concentration, increasing self-esteem, decreasing hyperactivity, etc.


Whether it is listening to music, dancing, or playing an instrument, music strengthens the auditory, visual, spatial, and motor areas of the brain. These areas are in charge of speech and language, reading comprehension, problem-solving, math skills, focusing, attention, and organization.


Research shows that music lessons can improve attention, impulse control, self-expression, self-esteem, and social functioning in children with ADHD. Also, music lessons can be particularly beneficial for children who struggle to focus when there is background noise.


So, here are some of the most important advantages of music lessons in Toronto for children with autism and ADHD.


The Benefits of Music Lessons for Children with Autism and ADHD


Children with autism and ADHD often struggle with difficulty learning, focusing, communicating, and controlling their impulses. These conditions can make your child’s and family’s everyday life difficult, causing problems in managing daily tasks, family, school, or career.


Fortunately, research shows that music may help children with autism and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder manage and express their emotions, relax, and feel more confident.


Music Lessons Can Promote Emotional Regulation and Expression


One study found that listening to specific types of music may have long-term consequences for the brain. In addition, the study demonstrated a relationship between the kind of music we listen to and the medial prefrontal cortex activity, which is in charge of emotion control.

Most children with autism and ADHD experience difficulty with emotional self-regulation. As a result, they often struggle to control their impulses and express their emotions. For example, a child with ASD may have problems with emotional expression and linking a particular emotion to a voice tone.

Music can help your child develop emotional regulation and understand the emotional expression. Listening and dancing to music, singing, or learning to play a musical instrument allows children to express how they feel and understand others may be feeling.

Also, music lessons in Toronto can help your child calm down, soothing their mind and body.


Music Lessons Can Improve Memory and Concentration

According to research, music increases memory, concentration, and overall brain functioning. Music can help children with ADHD stay focused and enhance their cognitive abilities.

For example, learning to play a musical instrument can help your child develop their ability to focus even on repetitive tasks and stay on track while learning.

Music provides multisensory stimulation, requiring various brain areas and senses to work together. This way, music lessons in Toronto can help your child develop attention, memory, and learning skills.


Music Lessons Can Strengthen Self-Esteem and Confidence


Music lessons can be a wonderful creative outlet, providing children with the opportunity to create something unique that they will be proud of. In addition, the accomplishments they achieve can boost your child’s self-esteem and confidence, consequently reducing behavioural difficulties.


Music Lessons Can Boost Dopamine Levels


As studies show, the brain centre in charge of repetitive activities has lower dopamine levels in children with ADD/ADHD.

Since dopamine is a reward brain chemical that helps regulate emotional responses and motivation, children with ADHD may struggle to control their impulses, follow directions, and stay organized because ADHD makes them forgetful, impulsive, and hyperactive.

On the other hand, dopamine levels rise when we complete a significant or pleasurable task, such as singing or playing the guitar. Therefore, music lessons can boost the dopamine levels in your child’s brain, promoting focus and concentration, perseverance, and motivation.


Online Music Lessons



In the past few years, online learning has become commonplace worldwide, especially after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

Online music classes may be a great way to help and support your child with autism or ADHD from the comfort of your own home or anywhere else, at any time.

Online music lessons provide the same level of individual attention as private one-on-one classes in person. Like in traditional private music lessons, the learning process is customized to a child’s specific needs, so they can get the most out of it.


Summary


Music promotes relaxation, self-expression, and communication.

Therefore, music school for kids with autism and ADHD can be highly motivating, increasing focus and attention and helping youth who lack language abilities to express themselves nonverbally, socialize, and manage self-regulation.



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