When Hannah Silva, a five year old patient at Franciscan Children’s, lit up with excitement at the sight of a cart filled with musical instruments, both Hannah’s mother Emanuella and music therapist Jessica Triana knew music therapy had to be incorporated into her therapeutic treatment plan. Already receiving occupational and speech therapies, nutrition and dental services, music therapy proved to be just what Hannah needed to blossom.
Although Hannah was extremely intelligent, her mother began to notice that Hannah had a hard time expressing herself before the age of two. She had a sensitivity to noise and wouldn’t make eye contact. In 2013, Hannah was diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum and having Global Developmental Delay (GDD).
Children with GDD can show delayed skill development in a range of categories including cognitive, social/emotional, speech/language and motor skills as well as general activities of daily living. This can be caused by many reasons but some of the more common factors are complications at birth, medical conditions and various environmental issues such as lead poisoning, poor nutrition, and exposure to drugs or alcohol before birth or trauma.
As one part of her ongoing treatment at Franciscan Children’s, music therapy is helping Hannah learn to verbalize her thoughts and to control her emotions and problem solve when she’s not getting what she wants.
Additionally, like with many children on the autism spectrum, Hannah presents with a few sensory-based food aversions. Because she rejected many foods without trying them, her diet was very limited before coming to Franciscan Children’s. Our occupational therapists and dietitians have worked with Hannah in a full-sized kitchen to open her up to trying new foods that she otherwise would have avoided.
Hannah’s care team at Franciscan Children’s collaborates to make sure that the combination of services she receives is connected and integrated. Because of this specialized attention, Hannah is able to show incredible signs of improvement in the areas she needs it the most. She is interacting with others, focusing on tasks she is given, willing to be challenged to problem solve her way through difficult situations and is showing emotion in ways her family wasn’t sure she’d ever be able to do.
Click HERE to learn more about Hannah and her love of music, something she has developed through the Franciscan Children’s music therapy program.
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