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Ryan Judd

Ryan Judd is a board certified music therapist. He has a master's degree in Music Therapy and a bachelor's degree in Psychology, with an emphasis on Child Development. He has been working as a music therapist with children with special needs for more than 16 years. In addition to working one on one with clients, Ryan also leads groups focused on the development of social skills.  His services are available in Southern New Hampshire, Northern Massachussets and Southern Maine.  He lives in the Seacoast region with his wife who is a 1st grade teacher.



My most recent video blog post shows my work with a young man with Autism who is also blind. He often experiences anxiety and so we are focusing on some relaxation strategies. 

Whether you are a parent, teacher or therapist, you can try these strategies with individuals who experience stress and anxiety. 

So what can you do to help someone with anxiety? You can:

  • Have calming instrumental music playing at 60 to 90 beats per minute (resting heart rate). You can find the music I used in this video from my album of relaxation music called, An Open Sky. 
  • Use slow, deep breathing techniques as illustrated in this video.
  • Lead some simple seated yoga moves and pair these with slow deep breaths
  • Write a song about using deep breathes to calm oneself. Or you can just use mine!!! :)
  • Pair taking slow deep breaths with a soothing instrument such as a lap harp or a rain stick. 
  • Keep your words and directives/prompts to a minimum.
  • Turn down the lights! Avoid using fluorescents if possible.
  • Give a fidget toy or mouthing/chew toy to help them get the sensory input that they need to become regulated.
  • Use deep pressure if that what your child craves (consult with an OT about how to do this).
  • Many people also respond well to swinging so if you have a swing, use it.
  • Consult with an Occupational or Physical Therapist! OT's and PT's can be great resources for sensory regulation strategies.
  • As with any intervention, it all depends on the individual and his/her specific needs and challenges, so be observant and try to learn more about their sensory needs.

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To stream the relaxing music used in this video, you can use the following links:  


Apple Music



Amazon Music :

Deezer :


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Music Therapy is a motivating, powerful modality to help children with special needs. Through engaging, creative and expressive musical activities, music therapists typically help children improve in the following areas:

  • Speech and communication
  • Fine and gross motor skills
  • Sensory Regulation
  • Academic
  • Social skill development
  • Behavioral
  • Social-Emotional
  • Self-Esteem


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What does Music Therapy look like with adults with Developmental Disabilities (DD) and Acquired Brain Injuries (ABI)?

A music therapy session typically starts off with a greeting song that acts as a transition into the session. After this song the music therapist leads a series of musical activities that are tailored to the individual’s needs. The following goals are addressed in a fun and motivating way through these activities.

  • Speech and communication – Singing custom written songs, i.e. “Going to take a Ride on a Rock n Roll train, Ride, Ride, Ride through the wind and the Rain…” to isolate speech sounds and get lots of repetition without monotony.
  • Fine and gross motor – Using traditional and adaptive percussive instruments, like hand drums, to address specific fine and gross motor skills.
  • Academic – Putting academic or personal information such as a phone number, into a song format so that recall is improved.
  • Social skill development – Music therapy groups where clients practice greetings, turn taking, eye contact, requesting, self-expression, collaboration, etc., through musical activities.
  • Behavioral - Creating songs and musical stories about appropriate behavior.
  • Social-Emotional – Using songs to teach a client how to identify feelings and use coping strategies when they are feeling overwhelmed.
  • Self-Esteem and Quality of Life Positive and successful experiences are created through fun and motivating musical experiences.


Why do adults with DD and ABI respond so well to music therapy?

Adults with DD and ABI do so well in music therapy because it captivates attention, motivates action and brings joy and success. Music can be beneficial in so many ways because it is processed in both the left and right hemispheres of the brain. It is also a multi-sensory activity that incorporates the visual, kinesthetic, auditory and tactile systems. This is especially true when moving to music or playing instruments such as drums, tambourines or shakers. In addition, music is non-verbal so for those who struggle with language, music can be a wonderful way to connect with others and express oneself. Hans Christian Anderson once said, “Where words fail, music speaks.”


Who can Benefit?   

Everyone can benefit from music therapy and it does not require a client to have any musical skills or experience.  Music is an integral part of all of us and when that inner music can be nurtured, a person can learn, grow and thrive! 


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There are many ways in which Music Therapy benefits children with Autism. This video illustrates that music therapy can help with:

  • Improved Communication including:
    • Speech
    • Articulation
    • Sign Language
    • Use of Electronic Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC) devices such as a Yes/No app on an iPad or something more complex like a Dynavox system
  • Social Skill Development such as greetings, turn-taking, joint attention and eye contact.
  • Self-Expression - This can be particularly powerful with a child who is non-verbal. Music Speaks Where Words Fail!
  • Behavioral Skills  – Creating songs and musical stories about appropriate behavior.
  • Social-Emotional Skills– Singing songs that teach a child how to identify feelings and how to cope with “big” emotions.

Other ways that Music Therapy benefits children with Autism include:

  • Motor Skill Development - These can be gross motor movements such as jumping or fine motor movements such as a two or three finger pinch (pincer grasp)
  • Academic Goals - Putting academic information into a song format so that recall is improved.
  • Sensory Regulation - Calming music, the use of rhythm, and instrument play can all help a child feel organized and grounded.
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