The efforts of Krishna Gopinath, a city-based music teacher, to teach special needs children music and help them achieve their full potential are claimed to yield results.

On December 3, the International Day of People with Disability, the parents of the children plan to call on the music teacher to express their gratitude.

For several years, weekly sessions for special needs children have been held at Ms. Gopinath’s home at Chakkamukku here. For parents, taking their children to the sessions has been a kind of pilgrimage. It has been a special act that they would never miss because they claim the results are obvious.

The aim of the sessions is more therapeutic than musical. The objective of the therapist or the music teacher is to communicate to the child through shared music and establish a relationship in which emotions can be explored and expressed.

The therapist’s aim is to encourage communication skills, help the child build rewarding relationships, develop self-awareness and confidence, and respond spontaneously and imaginatively. “Believe me, these objectives can be achieved,” says Ms. Gopinath.

She points out several examples. Most of her students are those with autism. “Making them sit through a session is the biggest challenge. I achieve this with the help of the children’s parents. Some of my students sing songs and chant the Bhagavad Gita. Learning music has contributed to their overall development,” she says.

Despite the fact that there is limited data about the effectiveness of music as therapy for autism, therapists claim that music gives structure and a predictable rhythm to verbal directions.

“We know that music therapy treatment is associated with improvement, but we don’t know what the cause of the improvement is,” Catherine Lord, a professor of psychology at the University of Michigan, specialising in autism research, was quoted as saying. The reasons for the change notwithstanding, the parents of the children are happy. The children themselves seem to be so when they sing the songs they picked up with difficulty.

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