It was always interesting to participate in discussions about music therapy for adults with disabilities in my master’s program, because even as I thought about how I could be of assistance to that population, I had to recognize that I could actually be considered a part of that population. What could music therapy do, or have done, for me as a blind person?
For children who are born blind, or lose their sight at an early age, music therapy can be a powerful tool for teaching valuable skills and redirecting negative behaviors before they become ingrained.
Common “blindisms”, such as eye-pressing or rocking, may be reduced. Social skills, such as directing one’s gaze, learning to hear body language, and developing one’s own gestural communication can be improved. It may also aid blind or visually impaired children in developing motor skills, learning to identify and discriminate between sounds, and learning to use auditory cues for orientation and navigation.
Blindness can often be associated with isolation and social exclusion. In addition to teaching essential social cues, music therapy provides an opportunity for quality social interaction. This is true regardless of age or ability level.
Whether working with a child at 7, or an adult of 50, confidence in one’s skills as a blind person is hugely important, and could be the difference between a fulfilling, independent life, and an empty existence trapped at home. Participation in music therapy has been shown to develop confidence in other populations, and could certainly be applied in this context as well.
Creativity and adaptability
Disability in general always brings challenges, but it’s the way that one responds to those challenges that makes all the difference. An ability to problem solve, find new ways to do old things is an invaluable skill. Musical improvisation and collaboration may be one way to improve in this.
Coping with grief, depression, and anxiety as the result of vision loss
Losing one’s sight is traumatic in and of itself, and depending on the cause of vision loss, can also be associated with other traumas that need to be addressed. Music therapy offers an opportunity for creative self-expression and a healthy option for working through difficult emotions in a safe space.
Looking back, I know I could have benefited greatly from music therapy in the ways I’ve mentioned. Indeed, I think I have benefited in some of those ways even just from participating in music therapy as a student and practitioner.
If you or your child are blind or visually impaired and would like to explore music therapy further, feel free to get in touch by emailing:
Visiting our facebook page, or contacting another music therapist in your area.
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