By Lisa Capobianco
Music therapy can help children with special needs develop their cognitive, behavioral, physical and emotional skills, as well as their communication and sensorimotor skills, reports the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA).
Music therapy for children with special needs serves as a professional health discipline that uses music as an educational tool to promote learning and skill acquisition, according to the Association’s website.
Emily Bevelaqua, a board-certified music therapist who has worked with a variety of clients, including children and adults with autism and neurological disorders, has facilitated music therapy groups throughout the state.
For Bevelaqua, helping children with special needs develop a variety of different skills through music serves as a rewarding experience.
“It makes me happy to see children engaged in something,” said Bevelaqua, who works for Connecticut Music Therapy Services, LLC. “It is nice to see the music trigger other goals.”
Bevelaqua will facilitate a new music therapy group next month in Southington. The Southington Parks & Recreations Department will offer an Inclusive Music Therapy Group program for children with special needs ages seven to 14.
The group will meet in the lower level program room at the Southington Public Library on Thursdays, Feb. 13, 20, and 27 as well as on March 13 from 5 to 5:45 p.m.
Director of Recreation David Lapreay said his department has wanted to offer this program over a year ago, with the hope of providing more opportunities to families who have children with special needs.
“I am glad we can offer this and hope it takes off,” Lapreay said.
During the program, participants will sing, dance and play instruments like the drums or shakers. Belevaqua, who plays the guitar, will lead a variety of songs depending on the age group.
Reports show correlations between speech and singing, memory for song and educational material and rhythm and motor behavior, reported AMTA. Belevaqua said among the young clients she has worked with, parents have reported improvements in their children’s language skills and fine and gross motor skills.
Besides meeting their developmental needs, Belevaqua added that music therapy also helps children support their emotional needs.
“Music making in and of itself is also therapeutic,” Belevaqua said. “It is a good way to improve sense-of-self goals.”
Pre-registration and payment is required. Class size is limited to eight children, who must be Southington residents. The fee costs $70 per child. For more information or to register, call the Parks & Recreation Department at (860) 276-6219.
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