The need for connection is deeply rooted in humanity. Music therapists often address this core need, fostering greater self-awareness and improved quality of life while doing so. Roberta Adler and Olga Samsonova-Jellison have addressed this need and developed a program, the MuSense Program, to aid music therapists in working with individuals who have severe to profound multiple disabilities (PMD). By working within the PMD structure, music therapists will develop a skill set that includes an acute awareness of nonverbal communication and an increased ability to observe body movements. Scholarly information is supported by the authors’ subjective experiences within the field over a period of 40 years. The authors are passionate about their work as they express detailed insights gained through their clinical experiences. When working with children and adults with PMD, burnout can be a concern, as clinicians often do not receive as much feedback from clients as they give. The information provided in this text is thought provoking and accessible, focusing on how to best meet clients’ needs, while teaching a perspective that acknowledges small gains as large accomplishments. Parents, caregivers, and professionals may benefit from this book to better understand the approach; however, the text is primarily targeted toward music therapists. The first two chapters give the reader foundational information to service children and adults with PMD and outlines a concise and comprehensive understanding of how sensory processing functions within the nervous system. The authors discuss anatomical and physiological facts in a simple manner, allowing the reader to easily comprehend these concepts. Tables, bullet points, and italicized keywords are used to reinforce and organize information presented. This structure creates a functional resource to reference when using this book in clinical practice. Sparking additional curiosity and thought, the correlations between the sensory nervous system and music, body awareness, and social interaction are also discussed. The second chapter contains descriptive information about physical, mental, social, and emotional characteristics frequently exhibited by children and adults with PMD. Short case studies and vignettes are used as an effective tool to help the reader link terminology and research with real-life experiences. Sensory processing is further discussed in relation to the population. An overview of basic services that are currently available are affirmed, going into greater detail about how music therapy services can be beneficial. The authors review a range of treatment perspectives, which include patience and positive persistence. They state, “We must be willing to put in the effort year after year, until one day, that person smiles, shows eye tracking, grasps an instrument without dropping it, or responds to sensory stimulation with acceptance rather than a defensive reaction” (p. 60). Next, the MuSense Program is introduced. The program is intended to be implemented consistently over an extended period of time, within a therapeutic environment combining tactile engagement and auditory stimulation to encourage transformation of one’s sensory processing system and overall awareness. Other benefits of this protocol include a greater shift in awakened state, increased ability to self-regulate, increased motor activity and tactile awareness, and increased social connection and communication. Chapter three illustrates how the program is implemented. The authors discuss the importance of assessment and suggest various ways to collect information in both group and individual settings. A strength of the MuSense Program is its emphasis on continual assessment in addition to taking baseline data. This allows for the music therapist to be aware of even the most minute details. The program is divided into three parts: first, an opening, then, a body awareness development or enhancement sequence with tactile engagement, and finally, interventions to build upon the body sequence work. The book gives a detailed list of objects and instruments that are recommended for implementation, as well as a supportive dialogue discussing the procedure, suggested repertoire, and advice on how to best connect with clients within each segment of the body awareness sequence. Chapter four details repertoire used when facilitating this program. Since the program has a heavy emphasis on connecting with clients, the therapist is encouraged to find pre-recorded music or compose music that can sustain clients’ attention and focus as well as effectively working toward specific goals and objectives. The authors share several pieces they created from their own clinical experiences, notated and printed in an appendix format. In addition to songs listed in chapter three, this section provides additional resources as well as a rationale for each source. The program can appear to be population specific, which could be viewed as a limitation. As the authors began to practice this program, they concluded that it has the potential to be adapted to other populations, such as autism spectrum disorder, Down syndrome, and brain injury. The final section, which includes chapters five through nine, provided case studies discussing the results and implementation of the program with children with severe autism spectrum disorder, severe to profound Down syndrome, dual diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder and Down syndrome, an adult with intellectual developmental disorder with multiple impairments and tacitly defensive behavior, and an adult with developmental disabilities due to brain injury. Each case study shares a common characteristic of needing assistance to increase sensory and body awareness, where clients benefit from various elements of the MuSense Program. Adler and Samsonova-Jellison have created a fantastic resource that can be used verbatim or for inspiration to relate and connect with clients, and both novice and experienced music therapists would benefit from reading this resource. The MuSense Program promotes continued success in allowing children and adults with PMD to be seen, heard, felt, and understood, one breakthrough at a time. © American Music Therapy Association 2018. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Music Therapy Perspectives – Oxford University Press
Published: Feb 15, 2018
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