Holiday Fun: Music & Movement for Children with Autism

Incorporate music and movement into your holiday schedule!

Whilst the holidays are a challenge for all families – parenting a child with autism comes with a unique set of challenges, the biggest being the child’s inability to keep themselves busy.  When the child attends an autism school, they have schedules and routines and most autism centers and therapists use music and movement activities on an everyday basis.

By incorporating music and movement into your holiday schedule you can engage and support your child’s development.  A blend of rhythm and motion can have a profoundly positive effect on the emotional well-being of a young child.

Music and movement also enhance sensory integration for your child.  Our children often experience difficulties processing their environments and music can help promote better self-regulation.

Music and movement activities can also improve communication because it engages so many senses in nontraditional ways.  Children are encouraged to vocalize, imitate and explore different sounds.

These types of fun activities have the power to evoke emotions and provide an outlet for expression for your autistic child because dancing and movement and sound allow the child to convey feelings that they may otherwise struggle to communicate verbally.

There are also cognitive development advantages associated with the implementation of music and movement programs and we should never forget the importance of shared music and movement experiences because they provide social interaction opportunities between family members and friends.

Here is a list of five fun music and movement activities you can do at home over the holidays:

  1. Have a good old-fashioned dance party with your child’s favorite nursery rhyme or song. Clear a space in your lounge and encourage your child to dance freely, but also encourage your child to copy your movements during the party.
  2. Rhythmic drumming may be a bit noisy, but the children will love it you can use drums or plastic parts ceramic pots, or other household items. Create simple rhythms together and see if you can get your child to imitate your rhythm.
  3. Engage in creative storytelling sessions – choose a different book with a musical theme or possibly a rhythm and then read the story together in different voices. Make sure you incorporate sound effects to make the experience engaging and interactive (like a drum-roll).
  4. Movement activities can easily be set up in the garden or even indoors depending on the weather. Design an obstacle course that will allow the child to crawl under tables or jump over cushions you can even have a balancing line.
  5. Let your child help you in the garden where they can pick up leaves and put them into bags or you can teach them to rake leaves, plant a seedling, push a trolley in the grocery store, or even carry a few light packets from the car into the kitchen.
Ilse Kilian-Ross

Ilse Kilian-Ross is the owner of Amazing K, a registered ECD and Partial Care Facility in Johannesburg. Amazing K is a private adhd school, autism school and therapy centre for children from age 2 - 6 years where learners receive the best of both the schooling and therapy world. The autism school offers Individualized Education Programs, Speech- and Augmentive Alternative Communication (AAC) therapy as well as a full and adapted Academic Curriculum.