Playing Mozart to children with autism can rapidly boost their progress, a therapist claimed today.
The Lift music therapy programme, using the Austrian composer’s symphonies, can accelerate development by up to three years in one month, according to speech and language therapist Karen O’Connor.
Ms O’Connor has opened the first clinic in Dublin offering the Lift treatment, which is specifically designed to help children with autism, attention deficit disorder (ADD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and dyspraxia.
Brain scan tests have shown that the cortex area of the brain lights up when classical music such as Mozart is played.
Ms O’Connor said: “It has been scientifically proven that certain music, in particular the music of Mozart, has a special effect on opening up the neuropathways – which are like highways to the part of the brain which allow us to attend, listen, absorb and express yourself.
“Some children who came to me with an initial language age of eight years of age have managed to increase their language power by three years in the space of a single month on the programme.”
The Lift programme focuses on the principles of listening therapy and other educational and recreational activities which are supervised and facilitated in a language-rich environment.
Ms O’Connor’s Listening Therapy Centre in Cabinteely in south Dublin also aims to launch a special programme soon to help adults improve their learning skills.
“Many people over the age of 45 years say it is difficult to learn something new, like a language,” said Ms O’Connor, a member of the Irish Association of Speech and Language Therapists (IASLT).
“The Lift programme works in exactly the same way with this age group as it does with children and younger people.
“The neuroplasticity of the brain is increased, allowing us to take in more information and express ourselves confidently.
“It also eases any doubts or a feeling of being overwhelmed which is often experienced by this age group during the learning process.”