D is 13 years old. She has been diagnosed with a specific developmental disorder which means she has not reached the cognitive and developmental milestones expected of a neurologically typical young woman. She has an autism diagnosis, and is non-verbal. She is highly anxious around coming into the hospital. In her music therapy sessions, D has been able to express and explore her feelings through the non-verbal medium of music, develop her ability to regulate her emotions and engage in positive social interaction, increasing her ability to communicate and relate, experience physical and sensory stimulation and demonstrate appropriate responses.
In her feedback to the Clinical Nurse Specialist, D’s mum wrote:
‘When we arrived at GOSH we were late as D had a meltdown at home and bit her arm in several places. I had to bring her back in the house to calm and attend her arm. She was very fractious when she arrived. The music therapist and play specialist were able to attend to her straight away and relaxed her into the room beautifully. It could not have gone better. They switched up her mood through the music. We are so grateful. Thank you so much for all you have done for us. GOSH is definitely leading the way for change. These have been my best experiences of hospital to date. And it has made an enormous difference to our lives.’
A is 9 years old and has a global developmental delay and a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder. He has a complex medical history, and has had to make frequent visits to the hospital for tests, procedures and surgeries. Through developing a musical relationship with the music therapist, A was able to physically explore his environment and surroundings in a calm and safe manner, providing a sense of control and confidence in his abilities, demonstrate determination and enjoyment, and increase his communication and vocal expression through singing (which A’s mum was able to capture on video, and share with family members).
A’s mum reports that music therapy supported A in adjusting to a new environment, helped him to relax, and reduced his fear of being in hospital. She wrote:
‘A was seen twice by the music therapist. The first time was on day of admission for surgery. A is hospital phobic and on admission was simply terrified. Requesting home on his voice and refusing to move from safe space/wheelchair (A has severe learning disabilities). A just simply came to life with the music. He adored it. Katya let A strum her guitar and was very much gearing the session to what A wanted. He was a different boy after the session - so relaxed and immediately got out of his wheelchair and sat in hospital chair. We were fortunate that Katya could see A a second time in admission. A had been requesting to see her by pointing to a photo of previous session on iPad. A was once again going for a procedure which sadly got cancelled till the following day. Again A loved the session and it really relaxed him. What an invaluable service this is to aid children in what is a stressful time.’