Music therapy has benefits for disabled kids

February 19, 2012 7:51:47 AM PST
Music therapy is a significant support for children with different disabilities. Not just singing, but also using instruments.

Matthew Dinkel, 11, has liked music since he was a baby.

"Every time he'd play music, he perked up, smiled, it calmed him down," said his mother, Kristen. "So finally, when he was healthy enough, my sister got him a guitar for Christmas."

Matthew was born with down syndrome and kidney failure.

"He had kidney transplant at 15 months," Kristen said. "We were in and out of the hospital for about the first three years of his life. He is immune suppressed, he has AA1 Hypothyroidism, asthma and being that he is immune suppressed, he gets a lot of bacterial infections.".

Four years ago, they started music therapy with Jeanne Besetzny.

He has done phenomenally well with her, his mother said.

"I've always wanted more speech," Kristen said. "I mean, speech is so important in life and he needs to communicate with people?That's the primarily the reason why we started him with music therapy. He seems to respond better to music therapy then just basic talking."

Besetzny, owner of Job Music Corp., understands her role as a music therapist for children with disabilities.

"How I use music is that most of the children that I work with are working on academic or social skills or physical skills," Besetzny said. "So they either play an instrument, keyboard or the piano or we work on singing skills to develop communication skills as well."

There is a differences between music therapist and a music educator.

"We are trained in understanding a variety of disabilities and learning how to use the music skills that we have encourage the client to work on developing their own skills as well," Besetzny said.

The impact of music therapy in rehab is essential. Congresswomen Gabby Gifford benefitted greatly from music therapy.

"The music therapy was able to connect to regain her speech skills and it's just wonderful that she's been able to be a real focal point for music therapy and recognize that it really has extreme benefits," Besetzny said.

For Matthew, the benefits are visible to his mother.

"He eats so well now," Kristen said. "He's able to chew better. Even his tongue, his whole tongue movement, has changed since he's started music therapy."

For more information on music therapy, visit the following websites: