Research suggests music can help children with autism learn to speak earlier and help them express their feelings better. It's doing things like this, that's helping young J.T show his emotions.
"Music is the number one thing that I love," said J.T Starry.
It's also something two Shenandoah University Music Therapy graduate students said helps kids like J.T learn to speak at a higher rate. He has autism like many of the kids at Essential Pieces.
The lobes of the brain that deal with speech and how they express themselves, is different than the average person. "MRI and FMRI research shows that music engages several centers of the brain and it can actually repair damaged portions of the brain, and it allows for a much higher level of brain engagement," said SU Music Therapy Grad Student, Ceara Crandall.
Music Therapy gives these kids the opportunity to practice their social skills, sharing, and taking turns. "It's a universal language that anyone can understand," said SU Music Therapy Grad Student Kerry Cornelius. She says a child that might have trouble expressing themselves can find a way to do it.
Sheila Shriver said it works with her son. "He's come out, and he sings about things he wouldn't normally talk about, and he's excited to come and sing and be a part of the group," said Sheila Shriver.
Camdyn Drago loves Justin Bieber and playing musical chairs. "You got to walk around and if the music stops you have to sit in your chair," Camdyn said.
As for J.T? He just loves to belt it out.