Using Music to Improve Sensory Processing
Music is frequently used as a therapeutic tool to calm or organize children. However, does music really have the potential for sensory organization?
In 2007, researchers Hall and Case-Smith conducted a study exploring the effects of sound based intervention for those with sensory processing disorder. They found that children who used a sensory diet in conjunction with a therapeutic listening protocol had significant improvement in sensory processing. In fact, there was an average increase of 71 points in the Sensory Profile. Therefore, music has the potential to improve a child’s auditory, visual, vestibular, and proprioceptive processing.
How to administer the Therapeutic Listening protocol?
Administering the Therapeutic Listening protocol requires specialized training. Children typically listen to the music two sessions daily, with three hours between sessions. Sessions are usually between 20 to 30 minutes.
How to use music at home and the clinic
Music can be used in many ways to help children relax, focus, and organize themselves. Music can be incorporated into a sensory diet for sensory regulation. For example, stimulating music can help stimulate a child who has decreased alertness. Additionally, music can be used to increase attention during daily tasks such as homework. It is important to remember that every child is different. Parents and clinicians will need to explore different types of music in various situations to find the “just right” protocol for the child.
References and Resources
Hall, L., & Case-Smith, J. (2007). The effect of sound-based intervention on children with sensory processing disorders and visual–motor delays. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 61 (2), 209–215. doi:10.5014/ajot.61.2.209
For more information on the structured Therapeutic Listening protocol visit:
Photo by Charvi Choksi, M.S., OTR/L