Tuesday, June 27, 2017

How Can We Help?

When Enabling Devices (then Toys for Special Children) was founded in 1978, the idea of adapting and creating toys and other products for people with disabilities was groundbreaking. In the nearly four decades that have elapsed, awareness of the needs of people with disabilities has increased, and the field has become more crowded. Consumers can now access our products or products made by our competitors from a variety of sources. Yet, Enabling Devices still stands out because of our longstanding commitment to providing personal, individualized and customized services to our clients.

Over the years, we have responded to clients’ unique needs by adapting and creating new products especially for them.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Happy Father’s Day!

Fathers' contributions are invaluable!
Despite significant increases in the numbers of stay-at-home fathers and dads who take active roles in the care of their children, many parenting magazines, books and blogs are geared almost exclusively toward mothers. Likewise, fathers are often overlooked at their children’s schools, by pediatricians and other clinicians. That’s unfortunate since research shows that paternal involvement is extremely important to children’s development in a myriad of ways. With Father’s Day just around the corner, this week’s blog addresses dads’ invaluable contributions to their children’s lives.

Involved fathers have smarter children
Studies have shown that engaged fathers are more likely to have children that have higher IQs and do better in school. For example, a recent study published in the Infant Mental Health Journal found that “the association between paternal interactions and cognitive outcome is evident at a very early age.”  More specifically, the study reported that babies who actively engage with their fathers, perform better on cognitive tests.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Musical Musings

Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination
and life to everything.”
― Plato

The power of music and its significant healing properties are well-known.  According to psychologist David M. Greenberg, writing for Psychology Today, “Music is much more than mere entertainment. It has been a feature of every known human society—anthropologists and sociologists have yet to find a single culture throughout the course of human history that has not had music. In fact, many evolutionary psychologists today make the argument that music predated language. Primitive tribes and religious practices have used music to reach enlightened states for thousands of years, and Pythagoras used music to heal different psychological and physical ailments. Currently, cutting-edge scientific research has shown the effect that music has on the brain, the individual, and society.”

Like their non-disabled peers, people with physical and developmental disabilities can benefit tremendously from interactions with music. While listening to music improves quality of life for just about everyone, some people with disabilities can also experience profoundly positive effects from taking part in adapted music lessons and/or music therapy. While these terms are sometimes used interchangeably, they are not the same. In this week’s post, we outline the differences between these two modalities and note the benefits of each.

What are adapted music lessons?
Adapted music lessons have the same goal as conventional music lessons: to teach the musical skills necessary to play an instrument. Yet adapted lessons are taught by teachers or music therapists skilled in providing an especially individualized approach to learning. Trained to evaluate the learning needs and styles of each student, adapted music teachers can tailor their lessons to the strengths and weaknesses of their students. They utilize a variety of strategies to help students to accomplish their goals.

According to Jennifer Hezoucky, a therapist at Life Song Therapy, adaptations for music students with physical disabilities may include: “Color-coding or large-print/chord music; learning songs using color or number codes; over-sized guitar picks; alternate tunings for guitar; adapted equipment for specific needs (such as switch-adapted instruments available through enablingdevices.com).

Adaptations for students with developmental or intellectual disabilities may include the use of “visual aids to structure the lesson and reduce frustration; non-verbal communication; a focus on preferred songs and music genres; communication devices; [the incorporation of] music games, rhythm instruments, movement and singing to maintain and maximize learning,” says Hezoucky.

What is music therapy?

In music therapy, music proficiency isn’t the goal. Rather, music is a means to achieving other goals. According the American Music Therapy Association “Music Therapy is the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed professional who has completed an approved music therapy program. Music Therapy is an established health profession in which music is used within a therapeutic relationship to address physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs of individuals.”

For example, notes music therapist Geoffrey Keith of Success Music Studio, “a music therapist may teach a student a song to help him to remember how to tie his shoes, or sing a song with him so he can work on saying a particular consonant that he struggles to say more clearly, or to help get out strong feelings attached to a traumatic experience.”

For more information about music therapy, visit musictherapy.org.
For more information about adapted music lessons, visit successmusicstudio.com.