F.I.M. Federazione Italiana Musicoterapeuti

Down’s syndrome

Age of development


Through the use of Body Resonance, it is possible to improve muscular tonicity. In case of very young children (less than a year) the "Circular Relationship", that is the way of working which joins the music therapist and the co-therapist, help the strengthening of the muscular and emotional tone of the child, helping the extension and the intensification of the times of attention. The sound is a wave of energy and gives a push to movement. Through the measured and shared movement, the child develops self-control and an increasing self-esteem. The more the child develops the attentive skills, the most he will be present in life, in games, in the relationship with the others. These are the bases for the verbal language and for learning.

Scientific Aspects

Two children suffering from an identical Down’s syndrome do not exist. Everyone has his subjective characteristics. Listening to the child means accepting his behaviours, in particular his “no’s”, giving to the clinical improvisation, the non-verbal communication and the measured and intentional use of the verbal language the task of transforming “no” in a participative attention. A child saying “no” has his good reasons to say it. Reproaches and praise are far from being useful to face the problem. “No” has its reason to be like that; at the same time, the overcoming of “no” has its reason coming from an opening in the view of the world. The natural flair for music which can be seen in children with the Down’s syndrome risks revealing a protective oasis and not a helping hand to grow. The theoretical foundations of humanistic music therapy analyse the deepest reasons why making music and singing in a repetitive way, also within a group, do not lead the children to learn. It is only a question of recreational activities.
The child with Down’s syndrome is a child. He learns as the other children according to the time he needs. The language of sound can be used in an active way, so that it will be useful to develop, in the child, an intense concentration leading him towards abstract concepts. For this reason, it is necessary to work on the emotional body tone to avoid a feeling of lack of self-confidence which expresses with opposing behaviours.
The relationship between the sound tone and the spontaneous creation of words and of verbal language is essential. The child with Down’s syndrome is a child and like the other children makes progresses in learning how to speak, according to the experiences and to their elaboration. Word and number go together. It is the music therapist’s task to interact with the child to discover which mechanisms concerning words or numbers are working inside him to help experience and learning. Passing from sound to sign (the alphabet letters) is interesting as well as the knowledge of numbers starting from movements in children games which become more difficult as the attention grows.

Videos Proposed

Video 1 Learn together
A child with Down’s syndrome. She grows, plays and learns in a mixed group (different ages).

Video 2 Learn together
Rhythm - Order - Song - Number

Video 3 Learn together
Enhancing "No" to overcome it and welcome "Yes".

Video 4 Learn together

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