We want to thank Marcella DeVivo for this inspiring story on how Nathan has been helped by Music!
How Music Helped My Son
My son Nathan was born with severe cerebral palsy. While he was developing, his brain was unable to form properly, which is a condition known as holoprosencephaly. While my son has little control over his own body and motor movements, he is cognizant and is actually very aware of everything around him.
At the time of my son’s birth, I didn’t even know music therapy was an option for him. Although we thoroughly searched for different ways to help him with his condition and tried countless methods, we still wanted to find something more effective.
Fortunately, with a bit of digging, we discovered that music therapy might be an option for Nathan. Having tried many other things, there seemed to be no harm in it, and we were hopeful that it would benefit him.
After doing considerable research, we found an incredible music therapist in our area who works which children who have a variety of disabilities, including cerebral palsy and autism, as well as all sorts of other medical problems.
To this day, we’re very grateful we tried music therapy because it’s been incredibly beneficial for our son in a variety of different, wonderful ways.
As I said before, Nathan doesn’t have too much control over the way his body moves. He may know that he wants to move his hand or grasp something, but actually doing it is a completely different story.
However, our music therapist has worked with Nathan in a variety of ways to include him in music therapy – to literally include him in the music. During music therapy sessions, our therapist sometimes tapes maracas to Nathan’s hands so he can actively shake them during a song. He may not have perfect control, but it involves him in the process and gets him moving in a positive, constructive manner.
Nathan’s music therapist even works with him so he can play guitar by positioning the instrument in a way that allows him to strum along and feel like he’s actually making music and creating something.
Cerebral palsy has also affected my son’s speech, and since he cannot control his lips or tongue, he’s not able to speak; however, he can still make sounds, and in music therapy, he has the chance to sing along with a song in way that’s fun.
By using music, Nathan is actually able to communicate better on a daily basis. Regular music therapy has also helped teach Nathan to make new sounds he can use to express himself.
Perhaps the most significant thing music therapy has done for Nathan is to help improve his emotional state. Through music therapy, the gap between his mind and body has been partially bridged.
Listening and being involved in music makes my son so happy. Almost everybody loves music, or at least listens to it for pleasure, and Nathan isn’t any different. Opening up his world to music continues to improve his mood and enjoyment of life – something that’s important for every child and adult.
Music therapy is an essential part of Nathan’s life, and it’s one that he looks forward to a great deal. While many therapeutic options for children with disabilities can be helpful, few are so much fun and so rewarding for children with disabilities.
Marcela De Vivo is a freelance writer, mother of a special needs child and business owner in Southern California. Through her writing with Northwest, she is able to share her journey with her son and educate other parents with special needs children to explore alternative therapies. Follow her story and Nathan’s life by visiting www.PrayForNathan.org
For more on Music and Children with disabilities be sure to visit G+MusiciansForAutismAwareness