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How You Can Use Music and Humor to Motivate a Child with Special Needs

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This music therapy video with a child with Down syndrome illustrates the following:

  • Children with Down syndrome and other special needs are motivated by humor!
  • You can use dramatic, funny reactions to inspire a child to learn, develop and practice skills.
  • Academic goals, fine motor skills, gross motor skills, communication skills, etc. can all be learned through humorous activities.
  • Use a funny, frustrated reaction to make a child laugh.
  • Act very surprised or confused in response to a desired action that a child performs.
  • If you can tap into what makes a child laugh, you have struck gold!

To read a transcription of this music therapy video post, please click here.

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.


  • Maggie Edgerton Saturday, 09 March 2013

    Twin Lakes Civitan Club of Mountain Home, AR is a service organization that serves the community with emphasis on those with developmental disabilities. We are a new club in our area, a branch of Civitan International, and the hardest part is getting the word out about Civitan. We currently have about 24 very active members. Our club has one very special annual event that we started even before being officially chartered…Book Bags for Summer. Our members work hard to collect books which we distribute to the self-contained special needs children in our local schools. Last year we provided 132 new book bags with 660 books. The book bags are distributed to all ages, but their reading levels are still considered to all be below the 6th grade level. The books were 90% gently used books with just a small percentage being actual new books. We are hoping to increase the percentage of NEW books this year so each bag has at least one new book.
    I was searching for children's book authors when I somehow came across your site and I wondered if you might have and music tapes which we could include in the bags as well this year. We would be extremely grateful for any donation you would be willing to provide the students and any help you could lend in getting our message out to other organizations such as book authors who might be willing to help us with book donations.

    I would also like to put your video on our website blog with your permission. It is wonderful and would be very informative for our readers. I'm new to this web stuff but I would also like to link to your sight, if I can figure out how to do that. Please email me if you would approve of our use of your videos.

  • Ryan Tuesday, 12 March 2013

    Hi Maggie, I have some questions about your organization. Please e-mail me at Thank you!

  • Monday, 11 March 2013

    Absolutely wonderful !!! i think this is the best way to teach so many things to your child.

  • Ryan Monday, 11 March 2013

    Thank you for the comment! I appreciate it.

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