Molly’s Top Learnings During Internship

I’ve learned so much during my internship at The Music Therapy Center of California.  I wanted to share a few highlights in this blog post.

  1. Visuals, visuals, visuals!

I hadn’t made any visuals for clients before internship.  Visuals were extremely helpful when teaching social concepts such as appropriate behavior, practicing academic concepts such as number and letter identification, allowing nonverbal clients to communicate choices using a visual menu, or creating adapted lesson materials such as color-coded staff paper.  Here’s an example of a visual I made to go along with the “Super Student” song for a client:

super student

  1. Write songs for clients!

I wrote my first songs ever during internship.  I learned in school that preferred music is always best, so I didn’t consider writing new songs unless using a songwriting intervention.  However, because children with autism tend to process singing more accurately than speech due to right lateralization, song is often an effective way to teach concepts.  Clients often need personalized materials in order to meet the goal and generalize it outside of therapy. I found there were many songs I could adapt or just change the lyrics (aka piggyback song) to work on the client’s specific goal.  For example, here’s a piggyback song to the tune of “We Are the Champions”:

Conversation Champion

G                 Bm      Em     C   D
We’re in a conversation
G               Bm   C E
Our topic is _________
Gain a friend’s attention
Ask them a question
Listen to the answer
C7                                     D7
And ask another question
Or make a comment!


  1. Parachutes for all!

I used to think that parachutes were only appropriate for children.  However, I found that my adult day program and memory care groups loved waving and watching the parachute.  It’s a sneaky way to get clients move their upper bodies or practice spatial concepts such as up and down or left and right.  Parachutes are not just for kids!


  1. Power of humor

Humor is a great way to keep clients young and old engaged.  I found that silliness can help young children meet their sustained attention goals, and clients who are tired of working on the same skills may enjoy the novelty silliness provides.  Additionally, you can use jokes or funny sayings that relate to upcoming holidays to assist with reality orientation.

  1. Self-care may change

Internship is very different from student life.  Because there are different demands, I found that I had different needs to address in my self-care.  For example, as a student I had to intentionally seek out quality time with friends because I spent a lot of time studying by myself.  However, when I started internship, I was around other people all day. In internship, I found that I needed more alone time to recharge and function at my best.

  1. Positive redirection

I did not use positive redirection before internship.  I learned that clients are usually more compliant when you tell them what they can do rather than what they can’t do.  When positive redirection does not extinguish maladaptive behaviors, then I consider another approach such as setting a limit.

  1. How to give sensory input

Initially, I was majorly intimidated by providing clients with tactile, vestibular, and proprioceptive input because I didn’t ever need to touch the clients in practicum at my university.  I learned that it can take some trial and error to meet each client’s needs in any given moment of your session.

  1. Kazoo is your friend

I’d like to learn violin, flute, cello, banjo, and many other instruments.  I could use them for name that tune, or just to change the timbre in my sessions.  But until then, I play kazoo.

  1. Caveat to the iso-principle

In school, I learned to always use the iso-principle (musically meet the client where they are at, then slowly shift to where they need to be).  However, I saw that when a child with autism screams because they are overstimulated, playing loud music will only make the situation worse. In that case, it’s best to bring out calming stimuli.

  1. Wake up your clients

Julie taught me that it’s usually best to wake up your older adult clients in memory care if they fall asleep, gently getting in their proximity or tapping them on the shoulder.  They can sleep during almost any other part of their day, so participating in cognitive, speech, and sensorimotor interventions is better for their health and quality of life.


Those are 10 of the many things I learned during internship.  What did you learn in your internship? Let us know in the comments below!

-Molly, Music Therapy Intern

Winter/Holiday Interventions

Hello everyone, welcome to another blog post! 

This time of the year is so wonderful because you have the opportunity to do many winter and holiday themed interventions and sessions! I have talked about this a bit before in a previous blog post, but themed sessions that correlate with the time of the year is a great way to implement reality orientation with your clients. Since we live in San Diego and a lot of our clients have never experienced snow either, it is also another great way to teach them about different winter activities and what snow looks like! 

Today, I’ll be sharing some of my favorite winter/holiday themed interventions that we have facilitated over the past few weeks in December. I’ll also share the goals that you can target with these interventions as well.

  1. Build a Snowman

This is an intervention that you can use with both individual and group clients! I use this intervention for attention and listening goals. I printed, cut out and laminated various parts of a snowman, and used three 8×11” pieces of paper as a snowman’s body. For groups, I pass out different parts of the snowman, and within the song, different parts are called, and the client is supposed to hold up the correlating part of the snowman, and then they’re able to put it on the snowman. The parts are held on with velcro, so that they are able to easily detach and reattach. You can do the same thing with an individual client, but have the various parts of the snowman spread out, and then they find the correct part. I have attached a lead sheet of an adapted version of “Frosty the Snowman” that I wrote, along with a picture of my visual after a group of my clients completed this intervention 🙂 


  1. 12 Days of Christmas (piggybacked)

This is another intervention that I have created for my groups of clients that also focus on attention, sequencing and listening goals. I took the melody from the 12 Days of Christmas and changed it to the “10 Days of Winter”, and changed the lyrics so that each day is a different winter related object. Some objects I included are mittens, hot cocoa, fireplaces, snowmen, etc. I printed out photos of each object called, with one taking up an entire 8×11” sheet of paper, and then I pass them out to the clients. I explain that during the song, when their objects are called, they are to hold up the picture. This works great with bigger groups as well, because even if they do not have a picture, I prompt them to point at the picture of the object that is called. For example, when I sing “On the fifth day of winter, [facility name] gave to me, 5 snowflakes!”, the person with the picture of 5 snowflakes holds up their paper, and everyone else gets to point at the picture. 


  1. Holiday song fill in the blank 

Holiday songs can be a really great tool to use to help facilitate speech and work long-term memory because a lot of the songs are familiar to most clients. If you are familiar with the NMT technique called MUSTIM, this is a great technique to help facilitate both of these goals. You can facilitate this intervention with many different populations and settings as well, including older adults in memory care, a group of adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, as well as individual clients. Some of my most used songs for this intervention include Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, Jingle Bells and Deck the Halls. For example, in the song Rudolph, there are clear phrases and ends of lines. You can choose to leave off the last word in each line for clients to fill in, or make it more challenging by pausing in the middle of a line. For example, “Rudolph the red nosed reindeer had a very shiny _____, and if you ever saw it, you would even say it _______”. This is a great intervention to scaffold as well, and you can even scaffold it so by the end, they are able to sing the song entirely independently while you provide an accompaniment. 


  1. Pass Rudolph 

This is a great intervention to use in groups to allow clients to have the opportunity for a leadership role, and to work on listening skills. This intervention can be done with really any song, but in this case, we chose to use Rudolph because we have a stuffed Rudolph that we use as a prop. Clients are prompted to pass around the stuffed Rudolph, and when the therapist stops playing/singing, whoever Rudolph lands on, that person gets the chance to have a solo. The solo can be done with drums, tambourine, or any other percussion instrument, and they can even sing as well. The other clients are instructed to listen to the other person as they do their solo, and then to clap for them at the end. The therapist can provide an accompaniment on guitar/piano while the client has their solo, and can improvise words based off of what is happening in the moment to the tune of Rudolph. 

There you have it! Some of my favorite holiday interventions I have been using the past few weeks. I would love to hear from you all- what are some interventions that you’ve done? 

Happy holidays and see you in the next post!

– Juliana Hsu, MTI

Communicating with Nonverbal Clients

I (Molly) recently had the amazing opportunity to attend the American Music Therapy Association’s national conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  The conference is an opportunity to meet other professionals, share ideas, and learn from cutting-edge research. Today I’d like to share a few things I learned from Peggy A. Farlow’s presentation on strategies to communicate with nonverbal clients.

It can take considerably more time and effort to communicate with nonverbal individuals, but it is essential to provide opportunities for self-expression.  When clients are unable to express their needs, desires, and preferences to those around them, maladaptive behaviors tend to increase in frequency and severity.  Whatever signals your nonverbal client uses to communicate, make sure to verbally state what you see to make sure you understood the client’s meaning. If a signal is unclear, ask for clarification by saying something like, “Did you mean yes?”  If the client gives several unclear signals, they may want to ask or answer a different question. It’s okay to ask, “Is there something else you’d like to talk about?”

The most common communication system for nonverbal clients is direct selection, which allows the client to communicate by pointing to a picture on a language board.  In order to use direct selection, clients need to have selective attention to visual stimuli and motor ability to indicate a choice.  If the client is not able to isolate one finger to point to a symbol on a language board, they can indicate their choice with a stylus, head movement, eye gaze, or even a laser pointer!


Direct selection can also work with more advanced language boards.  For example, clients who spell can use an alphabet board like the one pictured above to spell out questions and answers.  The therapist should verbally state each letter to make sure they understood the client’s signal.

alphabet board

Indirect selection works well for clients with very limited motor ability.  The client communicates by giving a yes signal when the therapist points to the desired picture on the language board.  Usually, the therapist will point to each row of the language board until the client gives a yes signal. Then the therapist will point to each column until the client gives the yes signal.  In this way, the client can communicate without pointing to the language board.

My favorite part of Farlow’s presentation was learning about the ETRAN system, which stands for eye transfer.  The therapist holds up a transparent language board, and the client uses eye gaze and/or head movements to select a symbol on the board.  High-tech ETRAN systems use a large, plexiglass board, but you can make a low-budget version with sheet protectors!


You can find the slides for Farlow’s entire presentation here.  I hope you’re as inspired as I was!

-Molly, Music Therapy Intern

Music Therapy + Art Therapy + Speech Language Therapy

Hello everyone, welcome to another blog post! 

For internship, we are required to create a special project over a topic that interests us. I have chosen to do mine over the benefits of interdisciplinary co treatment between music, art and speech language therapy. For this blog post, I have included a preview into my special project, and created infographics that cover the basics of music, art and speech language therapy. All of this information comes from the national associations for each profession as well.

If you would like more information on each of these therapies, I have included some hyperlinks below to each of the national associations!

American Music Therapy Association

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

American Art Therapy Association

I would love to hear from you all- Have you ever seen co treatment between music and art therapy? How about music and speech therapy? Feel free to share your experiences in the comments below! 

See you in the next post!


Festive Interventions for your Holiday Session Plans!

Hello everyone! I don’t know about you, but I have been waiting ALL FALL to be able to finally do holiday interventions. I think it is so fun to plan sessions around a theme, especially for holidays! I have done several holiday sessions so far, so I wanted to share some fun interventions for your own session planning! 

Holiday Themed Name that Tune: 

One of my favorite ways to structure a session is to start with “Name that tune” before each intervention I lead. I love to do this by using my Kazoo to play the melody for the group, then following with that song and a fun exercise ! Below are lots of ideas for interventions to put to various Holiday songs

Frosty the Snowman-Sustained Attention/Focus Intervention:

Materials: Frosty the snowman pieces (hat, nose, eyes, mouth, scarf) 


  1. MT passes out pieces to Frosty the Snowman so that each client has one piece. 
  2. MT begins to sing Frosty the Snowman, accompanying on guitar. 
  3. As MT sings song, clients listen for their item to be listed in the song. When they hear their item, MT brings large drum over to them and they toss their item into the drum.. 
  4. MT continues to sing until all items have been collected 
  5. You will see success when clients are engaged and focused for the entire song and puts their item in the drum without needing additional prompting. 


Frosty the snowman was a jolly happy soul

With a corncob pipe (*client with pipe puts item into drum)

 and a button nose (*client with nose puts item into drum)

And two eyes made out of coal (*client with eyes puts item into drum)

For this exercise, I found a snowman kit at Target! I am sure you could find this other places as well, such as Amazon or other stores. If you can’t find a kit, I suggest creating one out of paper or felt! I have attached a photo of my kit for your reference below:  


Deck the Halls: Falalala attention intervention

  1. MT plays melody on Kazoo, clients guess the title of the song 
  2. MT says: “Now I have a special role for you in this song. I want you to hold your instrument in the air and play along only on the part that says “falalalala”. Anytime you hear that phrase, lift and play! Let’s practice” 
  3. MT sings first line of song and visually prompts clients to raise and play instruments on “falalala” section.
  4. MT sings song, accompanying on guitar, prompting clients to play along. 


Let it Snow: Upper Body Movement

Materials: snowflakes or scarves

  1. MT passes out visual snowflakes to the group
  2. MT demonstrates desired movement with snowflake (arm extensions, bicep curls, etc.)
  3. MT sings through song, accompanying on guitar, while cueing group for movement. 

For this activity, I printed out snowflakes that I found on Google images, and laminated them for use with clients! Another fun idea is using scarves as snowflakes and “winter wind”

Walkin’ In a Winter Wonderland: Lower Body Movement: 

  1. MT explains that group will be walkin’ in their own winter wonderland” by exercising their  lower body. This is important to daily life so that clients maintain lower body strength to prevent falls and independence. 
  2. MT demonstrates toe taps and cues group to follow 
  3. MT sings song, accompanying on guitar, while continuing to cue movement 
  4. MT demonstrates seated marches, and cues group to follow 
  5. MT sings through song again

I love both of these movement interventions because they add a fun twist to typical movement activities. Incorporating visuals such as snowflakes helps to motivate clients to participate and helps with orienting them to the season, and using a song about walking encourages clients to move their lower body!This song is also great for encouraging reminiscence and utilizing technology such as a smart board or iPad to show YouTube videos or photos of winter scenes. 


Joy to the World: Vocal warm-up:

  1. MT prompts group to sing along to “Joy to the World” 
  2. MT explains to clients that we will now work out our speaking and singing muscles by adding some different words to the song. This is important to strengthen and maintain good articulation and breath support so that others can understand what one is saying and to keep oxygen flowing through the body!
  3. First, replace original lyrics with “la” 
  4. Next, replace lyrics with “doo”
  5. Replace lyrics with “wow”
  6. Sing original words one final time

I have used this intervention with a couple of my older adult groups, and I love it because it uses a song and melody that they know well, and is great for working vocal muscles. Plus it is tons of fun to add in silly words or sounds. My favorite one to use is “meow” or “wow” because it has several sounds within it, making it great for working on articulation!


We Wish You a Merry Christmas/Holiday Songwriting

Since Christmas isn’t the only Holiday that happens around this time of year, I think it is a great idea to try and incorporate other holidays into sessions. One idea is to use the well-known song “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” and after singing through the original, changing the lyrics to “We Wish You a Happy Hanukkah” and then “We Wish You a Happy Kwanzaa.” This is a fun way to end your session with an upbeat song.

I hope this gives you some ideas for your own holiday themed sessions! 

See you in the next post,



5 Ways to Use “ The Lion Sleeps Tonight” in Music Therapy

One of the songs I play the most in music therapy sessions is “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” as recorded by The Tokens in 1961.  This is one of those rare songs that isn’t limited to a specific age group or population, which makes it very versatile. Here are five ways I’ve used this song in music therapy settings:

  1. MUSTIM: Because this song is so well-known and has simple lyrics, it is a great song for the neurologic music therapy technique Musical Speech Stimulation (MUSTIM).  This technique uses fill-in-the-blanks to encourage clients to speak or sing.  When I use this song to stimulate speech, I pause before saying the last word in the phrase and prompt the client to complete the phrase.  For example, I might sing, “In the jungle, the mighty jungle, the lion sleeps…” and wait for the client to sing or say “tonight.”
  2. Articulation: When I use this song in groups with one or more nonverbal clients, I like to vocables (non-words) for a verse to encourage non-speakers to sing.  This can be a motivating opportunity to mass practice CV or CVC sounds. If the group doesn’t have an articulation goal, I’ll often use a bilabial sound such as /b/ or /m/ since these sounds are often the first to develop.  Additionally, this lengthens the intervention for groups working on sustained attention goals.
  3. Songwriting: When working with clients on making and communicating choices, offer choices for different animals, places, and actions to put in the song.  For example, I ask clients, “Should we sing about a lion or a penguin?” while showing a visual of each one. When clients express choices verbally or gesturally, I place their choices on a dry erase board with the lyrics, then lead the group in singing our new song.
  4. Receptive language: Sing several verses, each about a different animal.  Challenge clients to find or match a visual to the animal in the verse from an appropriate field (2, 3, or 5).
  5. MACT: This is a fun song to use for sustained attention and 1- or 2-step direction following.  It’s fun and easy to embed directions in this tune. For example, the therapist can sing which instrument to play (“[client name] plays the drum” or “[client name] plays tambourine”).  The therapist can also embed verbal directions for dynamic or tempo changes (loud, soft, fast, slow, etc.). When working on sustained attention with groups, I often embed directions in 2 or 3 verses, then up the challenge by leading musical changes without verbal prompts.


I hope these uses of “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” spark some ideas for you and your clients!  Do you have any other uses for this song? Let us know in the comments!


-Molly, Music Therapy Intern

A Song for Every Season

The songs we pick as music therapists are tools to orient clients to the day of the week, weather, month, season, upcoming holidays, and more.  Themes can also tie sessions together and provide opportunities for reminiscence.  Here is my running list of themes by category.  I hope it sparks some ideas for your individual and group sessions!



  • “Singing in the Rain”
  • “Pennies from Heaven”
  • “Over the Rainbow”
  • “Catch a Falling Star”
  • “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head”
  • “A Foggy Day”
  • “Blown Away”
  • “Hurricane”

Sun/Sunny Weather

  • “Here Comes the Sun”
  • “Sunny Side of the Street”
  • “You Are My Sunshine”
  • “Walking on Sunshine”
  • “Blue Skies”
  • “Hot, Hot, Hot”

Time of Day


  • “Good Morning” (Singing in the Rain)
  • “Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin’”


  • “Goodnight, Ladies”
  • “Goodnight, My Someone”



  • “Frozen Penguin”
  • “I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm”
  • “Let It Go”
  • “Snow” from White Christmas


  • “April Showers”
  • “Blue Skies”
  • “When the Red Robin Goes Boppin’ Along”
  • “Edelweiss”
  • “It Might as Well Be Spring”
  • “Spring Will Be a Little Late This Year”
  • “I’m Looking Over a Four-Leaf Clover”
  • “April in Paris”
  • “While Strolling Through the Park One Day”


  • “It’s Summertime”
  • “In Summer”
  • “Summertime” (Gershwin)
  • “The Summer Wind”
  • “My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean”
  • “Beyond the Sea”
  • “Under the Boardwalk”
  • “Summer Song” (Brubeck)
  • “Those Lazy Hazy Crazy Days Of Summer”
  • “In the Summertime” (Mungo Jerry)
  • “Hot Hot Hot”
  • “Jump in the Line”
  • “Summer of ‘69”
  • “Surfin’ Safari”
  • “Memphis in June”


  • “Autumn Leaves”
  • “Colors of the Wind”
  • “She’ll Be Coming Round the Mountain”
  • “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands”
  • “Wagon Wheel”
  • “Country Roads”


Patriotic Songs (for President’s Day, Memorial Day, Flag Day, Fourth of July, Veteran’s Day, etc.)

  • “My Country Tis of Thee”
  • “Battle Hymn of the Republic”
  • “You’re a Grand Old Flag”
  • “Proud to be an American”
  • “God Bless the USA”
  • “Stars and Stripes Forever”
  • “God Bless America”
  • “Yankee Doodle” and “Yankee Doodle Boy”
  • “Star-Spangled Banner”
  • “America the Beautiful”
  • “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy”
  • “This is Worth Fighting For”
  • “Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue”
  • “Over There”
  • “You’re In the Army Now”
  • “Home on the Range”
  • “Caissons Go Rolling Along”
  • “Anchors Away”
  • “Marine’s Hymn”
  • “Semper Paratus”
  • “The U.S. Air Force”


  • “Easter Parade”
  • “A Tisket, A Tasket”
  • “Here Comes Peter Cottontail”
  • “On the Good Ship Lollipop”
  • “The Candyman”
  • “I Want Candy”

Money/Tax Day

  • “Three Coins in the Fountain”
  • “Pennies from Heaven”
  • “Side by Side”
  • “Money, Money, Money”
  • “If I Were a Rich Man”

Labor Day

  • “Nice Work if You Can Get It”
  • “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad”
  • “Whistle While You Work”
  • “Working for a Living”
  • “Nine to Five”
  • “Car Wash”
  • “Sixteen Tons”


  • “Thriller”
  • “Addams Family Theme”
  • “Ghostbusters”
  • “Witchcraft”
  • “Old Devil Moon”
  • “Soul Man”
  • “Time Warp”
  • “Purple People-Eater”
  • “Monster Mash”


  • “Thankful”
  • “Come On-A My House”
  • “Shoo-Fly Pie”
  • “I’ve Got Plenty to Be Thankful For”
  • “Autumn Leaves”
  • “Sweet Potato Pie”
  • “We Are Family”
  • “Be Thankful”
  • “Blessed”
  • “Autumn in New York”

Academic Concepts


Parts of Speech

  • “Pronouns Song”
  • “Verbs: That’s What’s Happening”
  • “A Noun Is A Person, Place Or Thing”
  • “Conjunction Junction”
  • “Interjections”
  • “Unpack Your Adjectives”
  • “Lolly, Lolly, Lolly Get Your Adverbs Here”
  • “Rufus Xavier Sarsaparilla”
  • “Busy Prepositions”

Counting Songs

  • “Who Stole the Cookies from the Cookie Jar”
  • “10 Little Racing Cars”
  • “5 Little Ducks”
  • “10 Little Racing Cars”
  • “The Ants Go Marching”
  • “5 Little Apples/Cookies”
  • “10 Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed”



  • “Baby, You Can Drive My Car”
  • “On the Road Again”
  • “Life is a Highway”
  • “Route 66”
  • “Fun, Fun, Fun”
  • “Little Deuce Coupe”


  • “Chattanooga Choo Choo”
  • “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad”
  • “Long Black Train”
  • “Take the A Train”
  • “This Train is Bound for Glory”


  • “Route 66”
  • “Beyond the Sea”
  • “You Can Drive My Car”
  • “Life is a Highway”
  • “Come Fly With Me”
  • “Fly Me To The Moon”
  • “Side By Side”
  • “Wagon Wheel”
  • “Sentimental Journey”
  • “Leaving on a Jet Plane’
  • “Yellow Submarine”
  • “Surrey with the Fringe”
  • “Row, Row, Row Your Boat”
  • “Michael Row Your Boat Ashore”
  • “Walking My Baby Back Home”
  • “Old Grey Mare ”
  • “In My Merry Oldsmobile”
  • “Back in the Saddle Again”
  • “Slow Boat to China”


  • “They All Laughed”
  • “Fly Me to the Moon”
  • “Beyond the Sea”
  • “Don’t Fence Me In”
  • “Cruising Down the River”
  • “I’ve Been Everywhere”


Cities and US States

  • “New York, New York”
  • “Chicago”
  • “Goodmorning, Baltimore”
  • “I’ve Got a Gal in Kalamazoo”
  • “April in Paris”
  • “I Left My Heart in San Francisco”
  • “A Foggy Day” (in London town)
  • “Memphis in June”
  • “Do You Know What It Means (to Miss New Orleans)”
  • “Carolina in the Morning”
  • “Georgia on my Mind”
  • “Sweet Home Alabama”
  • “Alabamy Bound”
  • “Blue Hawaii”
  • “Deep in the Heart of Texas”
  • “All My ‘Exes Live in Texas”
  • “Yellow Rose of TX”
  • “Meet me in St. Louis”
  • “Oklahoma”


  • “Octopus’s Garden”
  • “Yellow Submarine”
  • “Slippery Fish”
  • “Surfin’ USA”
  • “My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean”
  • “Beyond the Sea”
  • “Under the Boardwalk”
  • “Girl from Ipanema”
  • “Red Sails in the Sunset”
  • “Rock the Boat”
  • “Knee Deep”


  • “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”
  • “La Cucaracha”
  • “Crocodile Rock”
  • “Disco Duck”
  • “Eye of the Tiger”
  • “Fireflies”
  • “Barracuda”
  • “Baby Shark”
  • “Hound Dog”


What are your favorite themes or seasonal songs to use in music therapy sessions?  Let us know in the comments below!


-Molly, Music Therapy Intern

Sensory Systems Song

We, the intern team, learned so much about sensory processing from Carol Stock Kranowitz’s (2005) book, The Out-of-Sync Child.  In this post, we’d like to talk about what we learned about the vestibular and visual systems.  You can find more information about other sensory systems in other posts.

The vestibular system determines the body’s position in space.  It tells us whether we’re up or down, what direction we’re moving, and how fast we are going.  The vestibular system sends the information to the central nervous system (CNS) so we can generate enough muscle tone to move smoothly and efficiently.  I learned that receptors for the vestibular system are hair cells in the fluid of the inner ear. They act as a carpenter’s level as our heads change in position.

We learned how important the vestibular system is to not only movement, but many other brain processes.  The brain processes all other sensory information in reference to the vestibular system. When the vestibular system functions inaccurately or inconsistently, other sensory information can be misinterpreted.  Individuals with sensory processing disorder may be overresponsive to vestibular input and are overstimulated by changing position, underresponsive and not be able to sense and react to falling sensations by extending an arm or leg to catch themselves, or constantly seeking vestibular input by climbing, hanging upside down, swinging, or spinning.

The visual system is one of the most complex systems in the brain.  It enables us to identify what is in the environment without touching it.  Additionally, it helps to guide and direct movement so we can interact, socialize, and learn in our environment.  We learned that eyesight is a prerequisite for vision, but eyesight is not the same as vision. Vision is something we develop as we learn to integrate our senses and make sense of what we see.  Individuals who are overresposive to visual stimuli tend to avoid contrasts, bright lights, shiny surfaces, flickering lights, or moving objects. Individuals with visual underresponsitivity may not notice novel stimuli such as decorations, not blink or turn away in response to bright light, or respond efficiently when something comes flying at them.  Individuals who seek visual stimuli, such as bright or flickering lights and extra screen time. Visual discrimination has a major impact on academic learning, nonverbal communication, and visual motor skills such as hand-eye coordination.

In our weekly symposium, we had the opportunity to put what we learned into song form!  Please enjoy “Out-of-Sync” to the tune of “A-B-C” by the one and only Jackson 4 (Angie, Megan, Juliana, and Molly).

-Molly and Juliana, MTCCA intern team