Music has a therapeutic quality and is excellent for teaching concentration and soft skills to differently abled children. Here’s all about teaching music to handicapped kids.

Teaching Music To Handicapped Kids

Music is said to have the therapeutic quality that is rarely seen in anything else – “barbarians” and “beasts” have been known to pacify when they hear melodious music. Someone rightly commented that “When people hear good music, it makes them homesick for something they never had, and never will have.” People have always marveled at the power of music to turn anger into serenity and worry into calm. It is perhaps the same quality of music that gives a sense of purpose and power to a child who, even though he or she is suffering from behavioural disorder or any other handicap, understands and masters the art and the science behind it. Especially when it comes to students who may be suffering from autism but may have an uncanny talent for music, it is almost therapeutic. Such students should never be kept away from music and must be encouraged to take it up seriously, though it may seem like a Herculean task. There are just some points you need to keep in mind when you are dealing with such a child in your classroom. Here’s how to teach music to handicapped children.
How To Teach Music To Handicapped Children 
What’s The Issue? 
The first thing to do, when you realise that you will be responsible for teaching a child with a disability, be it privately or in a classroom setting, find out immediately what the child’s disability is, how severe it is, and any other information that could be of importance. Find out as much as you can about the disability in the library or go see a special education teacher to talk about what to expect from this student and how to get ahead with the classes with such a student. If you are teaching in a classroom setting, immediately talk to the child’s classroom teacher or any other teacher who has taught the child at any point of time, and look up his or her Individualized Education Programme or IEP. An IEP is a learning plan that every child who suffers from a serious documented learning disability is allotted. As a teacher, it is your responsibility to follow the child’s IEP. An IEP may also include specifications such as allowing extra time while appearing for tests, giving the child a seat at the front of the classroom, or other small allowances. It may also provide for an aide to be present in the classroom for the stipulated amount of time.
Getting To Know You 
The first thing to do when you meet the child for the first time is to introduce yourself to the child and get to know him or her. If he or she has come with an aide, get to know her, too. If the child does not come with an aide, and his or her behavior is causing constant disruptions in your classroom, you will need to speak to the special education teachers or the principal of the school about allotting one to the child who shall always be present in your classroom. An aide will be in a better position to manage the child's behavior while you teach the class so that the other children don’t have to miss out on the lessons taught in the class.
Take It A Little Slow 
You will have to understand that such a child may learn much slower than other children; there are even chances that he/she may learn faster than them. Children with autism spectrum disorders may learn very fast, especially if they have the talent for music, but they may appear to be disconnected from the classroom environment. Contrary to what we may think, most students who suffer from behavioral disorders, in fact, are very intelligent; they are however, emotionally immature and often unable to communicate appropriately with “normal” people. Make a point to try and understand the way in which such children communicate, even if you may consider it the “inappropriate” way, especially, in the presence of the other children. Of course, there is no reason for you not to correct the behavior of such a child if it’s getting in the way of your other children's ability to learn, but you must be more patient with a child who has learning disabilities.
One For All; All At Once 
While teaching the child, give him/her all the pieces of a new idea at one time, and see what he/she makes of them – don’t feed a new skill to him/her bit by bit, because he/she will not see the overall purpose of the activity. For instance, if you are teaching rhythm to him or her, hand the child the rhythm sticks and display a card with a simple rhythm on it. Then, count the rhythm as you point to the card. Next, play the same rhythm while counting once. Play the rhythm again while counting a second time and ask the child to play and count with you. In the same way, you will have to give the child another such card and ask him or her to play in the same way.
More Time, More Improvement 
In a private setting, you will have the luxury to spend much more time with the child, and you will be able to cater directly to all his/her learning needs. It is always a good idea to have another adult in the classroom, especially if the child easily gets distracted. Let the child take control of his/her own learning. He/she will be more motivated to learn if he/she feels he/she has control over it. Also, if you give him/her the pieces of what he/she should learn and don’t talk too much about them, he/she will figure things out more readily and be less frustrated than if there is a lot of communication he’s/she’s forced to try to understand.

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