How Music Therapy Helped My Sons on the Autism Spectrum 

June 26, 2015
Jeff Kozolanka
A smiling man talking to a student in his office.

You receive the devastating diagnosis that your child has autism. You’re worried for your child’s present, and worried for their future. Where do you go from here?
I have a story of hope.
My wife and I received our sons’ diagnoses early. We were quite frankly devastated at first. However, Zack and Evan have shown us that anything is possible.
Much of their success is due to their involvement in art, music, hearing, social, and other types of therapies. They’re now two beautiful teenaged boys who we are immensely proud of. They’re also both accomplished black belts in Korean Tae Kwon Do!
Music therapy in particular has been instrumental in their development. Not only has listening to music had huge benefits for them, we also decided to enroll both boys in piano in hopes of developing them further.

They began lessons back in 2010 when they were 10 and 8. We decided on music due to Zack really noticing and liking Elton John, especially Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.
The results have been splendid. Their marks in school have risen, their concentration has improved, their ability to focus and stay on task is better, and their ability to socialize with friends has increased. Zack can play Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (and In Dreams!) on piano, and both boys discuss current music with their friends and even play for family and friends when they visit.

We did find out that you must be careful with music therapy at first, simply because the volume of music proved to be confusing and interrupted Zack’s and Evan’s comfort zones. However, they gradually grew to like it and the benefits started to happen!

With Evan, it’s apparent that he enjoys playing and hearing his talent and feeling a sense of accomplishment. He’s still nervous at recitals, but his smile and flow is indicative of happiness. Zack is more stoic when he plays (so serious at times!), but we know that the benefits for him are similar. And recently we’ve switched them to a new teacher, who they’ve really gravitated toward.
It has been a wonderful journey. Tremendously difficult at times, but wonderful. Seeing the benefits in their academics and social lives, our hopes have changed. Our boys have shown us that they’re capable of anything. It might just take a little longer, but they’re capable of anything.

Jeff Kozolanka is a CPI Certified Instructor who helps his clients transition to independent living. Prior to this position, he worked for twenty-five years with male youths ages 13–17 who were in custody. Jeff lives in Windsor, Ontario with his wife and two sons, just across from the City of Detroit.

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