Music plays a powerful part in our lives. It can be used to create memories, and then trigger them later in life. Music is important for adults and children, and especially those with special needs and disabilities. So, how does music help those with disabilities? Continue reading to find out more.

How can you use music with special needs?

The use of music therapy for people with learning disabilities has many benefits, and can help to improve communication, interaction and self-expression.

Music therapy can also help to empower people by offering them choices, increase motivation, and encourage physical activity and coordination. It can also be used to learn new things at a young age. With the help of music and song, children can learn letters, numbers and more.

Learning challenges can affect a child emotionally, behaviourally and physically. But introducing music into their day-to-day activities can help improve their wellbeing. It has been shown that playing an instrument can help children with ADHD or learning disabilities by increasing their attention span and their appetite for learning.

Four ways music helps those with disabilities

Music has a powerful effect on everyone, but it can be used in an educational setting for children or adults with complex needs. Using music with special needs education has many benefits, including:

  • Music helps you bond
  • A multi-sensory experience
  • Motivation
  • Self regulation

Music helps you bond

Listening to, playing or dancing to music can create a strong bond between you and your child, or even a student and teacher.

Getting into a routine of listening to music daily, signing along to it, and even dancing, can greatly improve the rapport with a child.

Introducing physical instruments into this routine can also help. It is well known that playing an instrument can greatly improve a child’s attention and motivation to learn.

A multi-sensory experience

A child playing with a musical instrument will trigger many senses, which is excellent for improving their learning abilities. Some children have sensory processing difficulties and using instruments to trigger certain senses and emotions is a great way to help them learn, and even come out of their shell in front of others.

Picture a child playing with a drum. It is a multi-sensory experience as they feel the drumstick in their hand, engage movement of their arm and wrist to bang the drum, and hear the noise it makes on impact. Their visual senses are also triggered as they focus on a point of the drum to hit with the drumstick.

Not only does this type of exercise trigger multiple senses, it is also great fun for the child.


Music can be used as a motivation tool. Sportsmen and women use music in a bid to motivate themselves before competing, and the same therapy can be used for children and adults with complex needs. Music therapy can be used to motivate a child to work on a difficult task.

Here are some examples of how you can implement this:

  • Sing a song during a challenging task as the child may be more willing to go along with it
  • Use different instruments to develop motor skills
  • Use an instrument to promote communication. For example, urging a child to ask to use the drums


Music can be non-verbal, which is especially good for children and adults who are non-verbal themselves. Playing music that has compelling beats and a catchy tune can bring a child out of their shell. 

It can also be used as a motivational tool to begin a task, or urge a child to get up and dance, providing physical stimulation.

Special needs support at Seashell

Seashell is dedicated to providing a creative, happy, and safe environment for children and young people with complex learning disabilities and additional communication needs.

Here at Seashell, we offer a holistic approach with Seashell Royal School Manchester, Seashell Royal College Manchester, and our 17 home-from-home care houses providing a safe, supported environment, and high-quality  sports, health, and wellbeing facilities.

Seashell focuses on the extended family that cares for each one of our students and residents. We understand the difference that can be made to all those connected lives. That is why we strive to include the whole family and the wider community in the life experience of our children and young people.

For more information, do not hesitate to get in touch.