Music therapy: ‘Her face just lights up when she hears it’on December 4, 2022 at 6:36 am

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Three-year-old Abigail is non-verbal and visually impaired but music therapy helps her communicate.

Abigail is three years old and lives in County Antrim.

She is non-verbal and visually impaired.

Her mother Claire started taking her to music therapy in January 2020 and said it had changed their lives.

Music therapy is available in some special schools and health trusts in Northern Ireland and is provided by some charities.

The Department of Health confirmed health trusts in Northern Ireland do not currently employ any music therapists directly, although some trusts have contracts with external music therapy organisations.

The Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB) said music therapy is a “patchwork of services” and has called for greater access across Northern Ireland.

The Department of Education said special schools decide on specific therapies for pupils, based on their individual needs and it is for the school to decide how to best utilise funding.

The Education Authority has said music therapy is an area of work that “it hopes to explore further in the future”.

Meanwhile, the Department of Health acknowledged that the delivery of music therapy in Northern Ireland “can be fragmented, with a degree of inequity of access to services across service user groups, as well as geographically”.

The department said it was undertaking a review of arts therapy services, to develop “a strategic approach to the creative therapies in Northern Ireland”.

Video journalist: Niall McCracken

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