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Music Therapy


Director: Bronte Arns

Music therapy is able to address the core deficits of autism – social skills, communication and imaginative play – through methods that are both planned and spontaneous. It also encourages social orientation and the building of positive relationships with adults and peers. However, its key importance is in the way it combines with teaching to optimise learning across varied settings. The Music Therapist uses music in a deliberate and creative way to attain and maintain the child’s health and well-being, and it may also address physical, psychological, emotional, cognitive and social needs according to the child’s Individual Program (IP) goals.

Giant Steps employs four registered Music Therapists who work with all the children from the youngest in Early Learning through to the older students in the Secondary Program.

At Giant Steps you will find a range of music therapy activities:

  • Singing and/or voice work
  • Instrument playing
  • Creative improvisation
  • Song composition
  • Dancing and movement
  • Storytelling through music
  • Listening to different styles of music

Music Therapists may also work alongside Speech Therapists and Occupational Therapists to run combined sessions such as “Sing and Speak”, “Music and Move” or drama groups. Music has also been used to support children struggling to cope with hair cutting, applying sunscreen and learning daily life skills such as brushing teeth and grooming hair.

Students are also exposed to music in the wider cultural community by visiting places of interest including the Sydney Opera House. As well, professional performing groups regularly visit the school, inviting group participation in music-making.

Music Therapy has been an integral part of service provision at Giant Steps since its establishment in 1995.

The primary aim of music therapy is to use music as a tool to address the social, emotional, physical and cognitive needs of our students, and to encourage them to make connections and develop relationships with the people around them. Active music making can encourage positive interactions with others and assist in developing the social foundation skills that underpin both verbal and non-verbal communication.

Music Therapy programs are designed to target individualized goals as set by the team of professionals in collaboration with the family. Age-appropriate programs are offered across the school, and provide students with the opportunity to explore the many styles and cultural sources of music and dance from around the world.

Provision can include small or large group sessions with peers, collaboratively developed programs such as Sounds Aloud (combining speech and music therapy), and cross-school specialty music groups, including a choir, dance troupe and rock band. We also aim to embed music across the wider curriculum in order to motivate and engage students in meeting their learning outcomes.