Client Story - Simra
Simra began music therapy way back in 2011 when she was just three years old. Even back then Simra was recognised to have a special connection with music. She was forced to stop her music therapy program when some serious medical issues meant a major operation was necessary. However, after several years she has now returned to us and is progressing just as rapidly as she used to.
Simra was born with two rare diseases – Lebers Congenital Amaurosis and Joubert Syndrome. Joubert syndrome affects brain development in the areas which govern coordination and balance. It means that Simra has trouble with her fine and gross motor movements, and fatigues very easily. She can only perform a task like playing the piano for roughly five minutes before needing a break. On top of this Simra is also completely blind because of her Lebers Congenital Amaurosis.
For all the challenges that Simra faces though, she makes up in both her enthusiasm and in her own musical abilities. Simra can recognise notes just by listening to them. This is a skill that even most trained musicians aren’t able to master.
Simra has two goals in music therapy: increase fine motor skill and increase gross motor planning ability. As the video below shows, Simra has been learning how to play Black or White
by Michael Jackson to address her fine motor ability. While not being able to see the notes she’s playing presents an obvious hurdle, probably the biggest challenge is simply the finger strength that is needed to depress the piano keys. You can see in the video how all of Simra’s fingers tense to help focus the strength of the finger playing the keys. For this reason, Simra really struggles to play more than one note at a time at the same time. This has been our focus since the making of the video but takes so much energy that we can only practice doing so once or twice before she fatigues and needs to rest.
The main intervention that we use to help Simra’s gross motor abilities is learning rock patterns on the drum kit. While Simra also fatigues relatively quickly in this activity, the main focus is learning the complex movements which are involved in playing the drum kit. These movements require her different limbs to perform independent tasks, strengthening her bilateral integration.
Simra is always excited to participate in music therapy. She is always asking to play different instruments – she most recently had a go at the Cello. It will be great to watch Simra as she progresses in confidence and ability in music therapy into the future.