November 10, 2009

Merlyn's Magical Music and Autism

During the mid 1990's, I had the privilege to work with
special needs preschoolers in a public school setting. Many of them
had various forms of autism. Some were quite severe and non-verbal,
whilst others were high functioning. Some had various sensory issues
that made even the simplest of tasks quite difficult to complete.
Several of the children had auditory sensitivities so severe it made
learning a struggle. Often, much of my time was spent dealing with
'melt-downs' and very little teaching, unfortunately.
Around this time, I recall reading an article about autism
and how classical music was often used to help soothe people
afflicted with the condition. I wondered if your cd Merlyn's Magical
Music might elicit similar responses in the autistic children I was
working with at the time, as I did not own any classical music.
I brought the cd into the classroom and was quite pleased at
the response from the children. I began by playing it in the
background during our table time activities where focus and attention
to task were especially important. The teacher and I found that not
only were the autistic children attending to the task better, but ALL
of the children seemed to benefit from the soothing environment we
created by having the music on in the background. Even the children
with ADD/ADHD were able to maintain their attention to task for
longer periods of time before needing redirected.
The autistic children who had such extreme sensitivities to
sound didn't appear to be affected negatively whatsoever. In fact,
quite the opposite. They noticed the music, and several even 'danced'
to the gentle rhythms, rocking their bodies side to side or forward
and back to the beat. When the music was on, they were more engaged
with their peers and more aware of their environment/surroundings.
One little boy even went and laid down next to the speaker on the cd
When our group of 13 children got a bit too rowdy, we'd pop
in the cd and dim the lights and were grateful for the calming effect
the music had on them.
I found the cd to be helpful as well with a child I worked
with who had spastic cerebral palsy. Part of her day consisted of
having to have her arms and legs and trunk muscles stretched. I found
that when I stretched her muscles whilst playing Merlyn's Magical
Music, she relaxed easier and didn't resist the stretching as much.
Merlyn's Magical Music worked so well in creating an
inviting, soothing and safe environment for our classroom that it
became part of our daily routine to have it programmed to repeat.
Having since had my own child with various special needs
including autism and cerebral palsy, I have found the cd to be
beneficial in helping my daughter fall asleep at night. She also
allows me to do her stretching exercises with minimal complaints when
Merlyn's Magical Music Volume 2 is playing (she's partial to Olivia's
Kittens). I often have her cranial sacral therapist play the cd
during her weekly CST session so that she is able to fully relax for
the hour.
Merlyn's Magical Music was even played in the Neonatal
Intensive Care Unit where my daughter spent her first month of life.
I requested the nurses play it for her so she wouldn't be as
irritated by the ventilator tubes and IV lines she had in place,
helping to sustain her life. When I was able to bring my daughter
home, the nurses asked if they could keep the cd there in the unit,
as even they found it to be quite soothing!
Thank you again, for creating and sharing such healing music
- I will always be grateful for the many ways it has impacted my
life, professionally, personally and spiritually. I also thank you
as well on behalf of the many special needs children out there who
have achieved so many goals, in part, because of the healing effect
of your music.

Michelle McFarland
Indianapolis, IN