» Alternate Therapies

Music could be dramatic key to transform lives

“If music be the food of love...play on.” The Bard of Stratford could well have been thinking of music therapist Cath Roberts when he penned the immortal lines as the Foundation’s own anecdotal evidence suggests that CdLS children frequently respond to sound and rhythm in a unique and sometimes surprising way.

Cath works for the East Cheshire NHS and she held the audience at the conference spellbound as she explained how the power of music can transform the lives of otherwise uncommunicative and difficult children.

A clarinettist, Cath explained that her profession of music therapist is now ‘state registered’ with around 380 members in the UK. Her work involves working with anyone who will benefit from her skills... the young, the disabled, the sick and the elderly.

She explains: “My patients may have learning, physical or sensory disabilities or they may be suffering from a terminal disease.

“If the medical or nursing professionals recommend that I should become involved, then that’s precisely what I do. And in the case of mental disability and syndromes such as CdLS, the results can be dramatic.”

Cath has experience of a CdLS child, Hannah Wantling, who was uncommunicative and experiencing many difficulties including self-injurious behaviour thought to be due to problems with her teeth.

The weekly music therapy sessions were, according to Hannah’s mother, Catherine, truly miraculous.

She says: “It was as though a window on Hannah’s life had been opened suddenly...as though a light had been turned on. I was immediately aware of the depth of her personality and her emotions in a way I’d never been able to experience before.

“We had no interaction and now we do. When she finished her first session she suddenly became a wild-child, as high as a kite, instead of being introspective and withdrawn.”

Says Cath: “I get the children involved in rhythm, imitation, sharing and non-verbal communication and this seems to be extremely valuable to them.

“It’s usually one-on-one although sometimes - like in Hannah’s case - parents attend too. The therapy seems to help children to develop self-awareness which reduces frustration and encourages creativity. And it’s fun too...!”

If you need any further information, contact the Association of Professional Music Therapists... or talk to your specialist/consultant.

Reaching Out newsletter
October 2000