In a word, yes. Music can impact brains in at least three ways.
First, from a sensory neural point of view, that is the beat that pairs with our circadian rhythms naturally calms, arouses, or just makes us feel safe in the familiarity of the sounds. This helps autistic youngsters survive sensori-overload, sound patterns that are precursors to language production guides them to begin mimicking those sounds and communicating with parents for wants and needs, and neurologically helps to develop and coordinate or dampen excitatory impulses in the brain so that impulse control is developed. The “lub-dub” theory of language development comes from the baby hearing the mother’s heartbeat in the womb and that’s conjectured to be the reason babies say two syllable first words: mama, dada, etc. Relates to sound patterns that are clearly discernible before we are ever born!
Second, music helps with social engagement by bringing about attention to the song starting, the words, the body movements with rhythmic patterns and physical coordination of the arms and legs together – crossing the midline helps one side of the brain to talk to the other side for cognitive enhancement.
And finally, many autistic children are super sensitive to sound, music has specifically helped through desensitization using The Listening Program™️ as this program has formulated music that presents a full spectrum of sound across all frequencies for a period of listening and then superimposes a band of (to begin with) low frequencies that are then varied in volume so as to keep the brain engaged and alerted to the sounds being presented – then, in the cool down time only the full spectrum plays. Over time, higher bands of sound frequencies are presented so that when the offending higher frequencies are played, the autistic ear has become desensitized and will be able to tolerate those sound frequencies better.Likewise, neuro-typical listeners will be able to discern those frequencies better and their corresponding letter sounds such as /s/, /sh/, /ch/, and /f/ for example are better heard in words as they are considered high frequency utterances. Just like those folks who have a hearing loss, if you don’t hear the sounds – you don’t produce them and so children who can’t say /s/ or /z/ sounds many times simply don’t perceive them accurately and this music therapy can help with that.
Other ways music can help children’s brains
There are many other ways music can help children’s brains such as learning to play an instrument. It involves learning to read notes, eye-hand coordination in playing the notes correctly, auditory input, and higher level thinking and organization as well as enhanced cognition for math and reading comes from playing the piano for instance. This is well documented in the literature and research.
Further information about Music Therapy can be found at The Institute for Music and Neurologic Function (IMNF) and Advanced Brain Technologies.