Music Therapy for AADC Deficiency

Emily Malcolm, PhD avatar

by Emily Malcolm, PhD |

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AADC deficiency diagnosis

Many patients with aromatic L-amino acid decarboxylase (AADC) deficiency 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 provides treatments such as singing, creating music, and listening or dancing to music.

The combination of music with other therapeutic techniques can help strengthen patients’ abilities, which may translate into improvements in other areas. Music therapy also provides a way to communicate for non-verbal patients.

How can music therapy help AADC deficiency patients?

Music can be used as a memory aid to teach specific information such as a phone number or address. Tasks also can be set to music to teach specific skills: for example, brushing teeth while listening to a fun song.

Music therapy can be used to help patients with walking by providing a steady rhythm to improve patients’ gait and stride. Therapists may play music with games to build movement skills. This may be combined with physical or occupational therapy to improve strength, flexibility, coordination, and range of motion. Music therapy also can be combined with speech therapy to improve patients’ verbal and non-verbal communication skills.

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

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 also may be able to coordinate with the center to establish guidelines and goals for therapy, as well as to track progress and address issues or concerns that might arise.

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Last updated: Jan. 7, 2020


AADC 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.