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Music Therapy in School IEPs

Updated: Dec 19, 2022

By: Miranda Murphy

When building a child’s IEP many services are available to help meet their individual needs. One of the services included in the IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) act that can be included in an IEP is Music Therapy. What is Music Therapy? Music therapy, in short, is the

meeting of non-musical goals through musical intervention. Goals can range from motor development, communication/improving speech, social skills , and coping/self-regulation. Music is one of the few ways humans can engage both parts of the brain. It engages the logical side (implementation of language skills and motor skills) and the creative side (imagination play and problem solving skills). Connections between these two sides of the brain allow children to think more quickly

and to better engage in difficult or unfamiliar situations.

How do I incorporate music therapy into my child’s IEP?

Certain criteria are placed on the implementation of music into your child’s treatment plan. Research must show that the service can functionally support the predetermined goals. Additional supports (besides speech, Ot, and PT) may be needed to assist a child's progress. Use of music therapy in the IEP may be necessary due to a limited number of other available approaches. Another factor for inclusion of Music Therapy is data that shows enhanced

engagement from the child in musical experiences. Music Therapists are able to complete a SEMTAP (Special Education Music Therapy Assessment Process) which is approved by IDEA to show a child’s eligibility for the service. The most important step to adding music therapy is requesting the service for your child. SEMTAP assessments must be completed before Music Therapy can be written into an IEP.

What is the SEMTAP process?

  • Assessment must be requested by parents or Child’s Treatment Team (including: teachers, school psychologists, directors of special ed, etc.)

    • Another thing to take into consideration is the availability/willingness of school district to include music services

  • Music Therapist reviews existing goals and treatments

  • Consultation with treatment team about integration of goals

  • Music Therapist will observe child in school setting to collect behavioral data

  • Music Therapist will engage child in an individual session to clarify target goals

  • All information is condensed and presented to treatment team

  • Implementation of treatment!

We do in-service!

Should your company/program be interested in music therapy services, we are able to provide one hour of free in-service to inform staff and administration on the benefits and inclusion of music in IEP treatment plans. One of our Music Therapists will facilitate sample experiences, review how experiences can meet goals, and to answer staff questions.


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