Music Therapy for People with Sanfilippo Syndrome

Emily Malcolm, PhD avatar

by Emily Malcolm, PhD |

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Many with Sanfilippo syndrome are non-verbal, and have difficulty communicating with their parents or caregivers. Music therapy may be used to help these patients with their verbal, motor, and social skills.

What is music therapy?

Music therapy is an established health profession in which therapists use music to address the physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs of individuals. A music therapist assesses the strengths and needs of each patient, and assists with treatments such as singing, creating music, and listening or dancing to music.

The combination of music with other therapeutic approaches can help to strengthen patients’ abilities, and provide a way for non-verbal patients to communicate.

How might it help Sanfilippo patients?

Music can be used as a memory aid for specific information, such as a phone number or address. Tasks also can be paired with music to teach specific skills, like brushing your teeth with listening to a fun song.

Music therapy can also help patients with walking by providing a steady rhythm that works to set a better gait and stride. Therapists may mix music with games to improve or build movement skills. This therapy can also be combined with physical or occupational therapy to improve strength, flexibility, coordination, and range of motion.

People with Sanfilippo syndrome can have a short attention span, which can limit social interactions. Music therapy provides a structured way for patients to interact with others; through music, they  can learn such skills as sharing, taking turns, and contributing to group activities. Specific songs can be used to build specific social skills, like making eye contact.

Music therapy also can be combined with speech therapy to improve patients’ verbal and non-verbal communication skills.

How can I find a music therapist near me?

Your physician or physiotherapist may be able to recommend a certified music therapy center near you. Your physiotherapist may also be able to coordinate with the center to establish guidelines and goals for the therapy, as well as to track progress and address issues or concerns that might arise.

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Last updated: Jan. 17, 2020


Sanfilippo Syndrome News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.