Music Therapy for Angelman Syndrome

Emily Malcolm, PhD avatar

by Emily Malcolm, PhD |

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Many Angelman syndrome patients are non-verbal and have difficulty communicating with parents or caregivers. To help these patients with their verbal, motor, and social skills, music can be used effectively in therapy.

What is music therapy?

In the established health profession of music therapy, therapists use music to address the physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs of individuals. A music therapist assesses the strengths and needs of each patient and provides treatments such as singing, creating music, and listening or dancing to music.

The combination of music with therapeutic techniques can help strengthen patients’ abilities, which can translate to improvement in other areas. Music therapy also provides a way of communicating for non-verbal patients.

How can music therapy help Angelman syndrome patients?

Music can be used as a memory aid to teach specific information such as a phone number or address. Tasks can also be set to music to teach specific skills, such as teeth brushing while listening to a fun song, for example.

Music therapy can be used to help patients with walking by providing a steady rhythm for patients to improve their gait and stride. Therapists may play music with games to build movement skills. This may be combined with physical or occupational therapy to improve strength, flexibility, coordination, and range of motion.

Many patients with Angelman syndrome have a short attention span, which can limit social interaction. Music therapy provides a structured way for patients to interact with others. Through music, they can learn skills such as sharing, taking turns, and contributing to group activities. Specific songs can be used to build specific social skills, such as making eye contact.

How can I find a music therapist near me?

Your physician or physiotherapist may be able to recommend a certified music therapy center near you. Your physiotherapist may also be able to coordinate with the center to establish guidelines and goals for the therapy, as well as to track progress and address issues or concerns that might arise.

The following resources may be helpful:


Last updated: Oct. 15, 2019


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