Music and art therapy are creative opportunities for individuals at any age to communicate and express emotions within an atmosphere of comfort and relaxation. Art and music therapy can help to relieve pain and reduce stress and anxiety, resulting in physiological changes, including improved respiration, lower blood pressure, reduced heart rate, and relaxed muscle tension.
Individuals with Selective Mutism are noted for their love of creative expression, such as art and music. Art is a favorite among children with SM. The typical child with SM can draw, color, and create for hours on end. Since they are mute in many settings, the use of art is a great means of expressing themselves. Many will choose to do art over most other classroom activities.
- Success in art/music is a self-esteem booster and can help the individual feel successful and special.
- Making art and playing an instrument are comforts for most children with SM and enables them to feel more relaxed in a tense situation.
- Artistic expression can be used as an early conversation-booster. Since children with SM are usually very proud of their accomplishments, a teacher can use the child’s art/music as a means of talking to the child and complimenting their efforts.
- A child with Selective Mutism can use art and/or music to communicate. For example, when a teacher asks the child a question, the child can draw her/his answer or play notes that represent certain words.
- Art and music can be activities that a child with Selective Mutism can be paired or grouped with other children who love creating. Having shared interests is a wonderful way to build social comfort and relationships with others.
- Children with SM by nature, tend to be more creative in their learning. It is assumed that the child with SM is not able to express him/herself verbally, so instead finds other means of expression, such as music, art, or writing.
- A learning atmosphere where a child can learn by experimenting and touching, rather than sequential or pure rote memory is ideal for anxious children. Hands-on learning can distract anxious children by allowing them to focus on the activity rather than their feelings.