Video Blog

Adult with Autism Shines in Music Therapy

Video shared by on in Video Blog
  • Font size: Larger Smaller
  • Hits: 9044
  • Print


Please sign up for my newsletter full of great tips and special education resources at    


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! 


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.


  • Litaphillips Monday, 06 June 2016

    Awesome Ryan!

  • Ryan Judd Monday, 06 June 2016

    Thank you Lita!

  • Carly Friday, 10 June 2016

    I love your videos!! I'm an elementary music teacher, and have used so many of your tips with my special education kids. The love and understanding you have for your clients really shows through in your videos.

  • Ryan Judd Friday, 10 June 2016

    Hi Carly, thanks so much for your comment! I'm so glad that you are finding these tips helpful!

  • Vicky Friday, 10 June 2016

    I love you "It's Music Time" DVD and use it daily with my students w/ Autism. Can you please make some more of the videos so we can have a variety of options? If not, do you know of anyone that publishes anything similar? Thanks!

  • Ryan Saturday, 11 June 2016

    Hi Vicky, I'm so glad that you are finding my DVD helpful. I don't have any plans to make others but you can look into Kibbles Rockin Playhouse and Spectrum Connections. I hope that helps!

  • Sheila Saturday, 11 June 2016

    Thank you, Ryan. This was a treat to observe.

  • Ryan Saturday, 11 June 2016

    Hi Sheila, you are so very welcome! It's a treat to work with him. :)

  • Maria Burtenshaw Sunday, 12 June 2016

    Hi Ryan,
    It's a joy to see the transformation on these children through music. God bless your work!

  • Ryan Sunday, 12 June 2016

    Thank you Marla! I'm so glad that you are enjoying this videos!

  • Kathryne Friday, 06 October 2017

    I am so greatful i have come across your site and videos...Amazing work I cannot wait to apply this with my own children.

  • Farah Husain Friday, 19 January 2018

    Hey Ryan, your videos are not only informative but a source of inspiration for us. I am anesthesiologits wth a love for music and our ICUs play soft musical notes to soothe critically ill patients. We are planning to incorporate music therapy in one of our projects for stress management and will definitely take your tips into consideration.

  • Jane Johnson Monday, 05 March 2018

    This is great, Ryan! Love watching your videos and infectious enthusiasm for every moment, even when responses are minimal, you celebrate each attainment, entering into the spirit with childlike delight. It's catching! I remember making up songs for getting dressed, toothbrushing songs, and so on.
    One very important one for lost children to the tune of twinkle twinkle little star:
    ' ___ ___ --- --- is my name, I live at --- ---- ___ ___ road
    here is my - telephone number: __ __ --- --- / /__ _

    Those rhymes and songs stay with my children today, 30 years later! two of my children are possibly autism spectrum (NOT DIAGNOSED ) and one of my grandchildren also shows some signs.
    I used these techniques when working in special needs schools, and in mainstream, (primary and secondary!) I also used similar techniques when teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) and TEFL.
    Retired now I still find it useful to retain information that I'm likely to forget in a senior moment!
    Thank you for setting this up and making it available for the public. Congratulations on your work, Ryan!

  • Ryan Monday, 16 April 2018

    Hi Jane, thanks so much for watching my video and sharing your story and how you successfully used music to help others!

Leave your comment

Guest Saturday, 04 April 2020
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Linkedin
  • Pinterest
  • Youtube
  • Rss
  • Google