Autism and ADHD in Adults: How Music Helps

By Will Tottle

Autism and ADHD aren't just childhood conditions; they last into adulthood as well. There is a lot of stigma surrounding them, but as time goes by it gets better and better. Over the years, it has been discovered that music can help mental health conditions, and both autism and ADHD are among them. In this article, we look at some of the ways music can help your mind, or the mind of someone close to you.

Music Therapy for Autism. Photo of adult woman with headphones.

Music and Autism

A considerable number of adults with autism out there are nonverbal which can make attempts at communication incredibly difficult, as well as stressful. Music uses the same area of the brain as spoken language, and it has been shown that it actually works as a valid form of communication for them. This means that they can express themselves through music, letting those around them understand the way they are feeling. Some studies have even found adults who are nonverbal start to use words as music therapy sessions progress, which is fantastic news.

For everyone on the spectrum, it is a new way to communicate, improving social skills while also reducing feelings of loneliness and isolation. Since those with autism tend to show a higher interest in music than the average person, it is a great way to get people engaged and talking to each other. It should also be noted that those with autism also like structure and routine—something that music is full of—and it can invoke a sense of calm. This is perfect for those who are anxious or stressed.

Music and ADHD

Those with ADHD do not produce enough dopamine, the neurotransmitter responsible for concentration as well as working memory. Music with a good beat is perfect for increasing the amount produced by the body, which is what makes it so ideal for helping to increase concentration levels as well as productivity.

Additionally, music activates both sides of the brain, meaning the all of the working muscles are being exercised and strengthened while you listen. This process is actually able to improve focus, as well as allow you to keep your mind on the task at hand. In other words, it distracts the part of your brain that was preventing you from concentrating in the first place—boosting your ability to multi-task.

Structure is an important part of life for those with ADHD, and music is always structured in some way—whether it's in the lyrics or the very beat itself. The fact that it is so organised has a soothing effect, and allows those with ADHD to start to learn how to lead more ordered lives.

How to Start Music Therapy

If you in the UK and interested in starting a music therapy course, the process is an incredibly easy one. All you need to do is go to your doctor for a referral, and they will have you sent to your nearest centre. Of course, this is not an option for everyone, and if that is the case, you can also contact music therapy centres yourself in the form of a self-referral. However, whichever method you choose may result in you being put on a waiting list for a short period of time.

If you are in the US, you can consult the American Music Therapy Association to find a music therapist in your area.

Hopefully, this article has given you the chance to learn more about the ways in which music can help adults that have ADHD and autism, as well as how you can start music therapy sessions. Will Tottle Bio PhotoIt is a really interesting topic, and one that is constantly growing due to new interest in the topic. If you enjoyed this article and want to learn more, we have a full and detailed guide to the world and music and mental health that you are sure to love.

About the Author:

Will Tottle is a freelance writer and blogger. If you are interested in more information on music therapy, audio guides and gear reviews, be sure to check out Will's audio guides. You can also follow Will on Facebook.


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