Pragmatics and Music Therapy

Published by KidLinks on: Nov 15, 2017 — Articles

The world seems a mess right now, and often we adults forget that the turmoil and stress we feel are felt by our children as well.

Recently a parent sent a video to me of her son singing Sesame Street’s “Let the Good Shine Out”. This teen is autistic and although he is verbal and quite bright, he has difficulty with pragmatic communication. This refers to complex verbal and non-verbal communication skills we use in our daily interactions with others, such as what we say, how we say it, our body language and whether it is appropriate to the given situation. Pragmatic communication is how we carry on conversations.

In this client’s music therapy sessions, we work on his pragmatics in a casual, relaxed setting. One day at home, he began singing “Let the Good Shine Out” when his mother and father were watching a news story about a recent tragedy and discussing with each other the difficulties in the world right now. Although their discussion was veiled to protect their son, he understood the gravity and sadness. The best way he knew to express that understanding and how to cope with it was through a song - and an appropriate one at that. Thank you music.

By Cora Lansdowne, MME, MT-BC


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