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Pediatric Music Therapy

br2003_031Lathom-Radocy, Wanda B. (2002). Pediatric Music Therapy. Springfield, IL: Charles C Thomas.

Reviewed by Cochavit Elefant, Coordinator of the Music Therapy Program at David Yellin College, Jerusalem, and Teacher at Bar Ilan University, Tel-Aviv, Israel.

Reading the book Pediatric Music Therapy by Wanda B. Lathom-Radocy, brought back a few memories from my school bench twenty years ago at one of the first NAMT (National Association of Music Therapy) training programs in the USA. The book has a flavor of the tradition that was established by the American “father” E. Thayer Gaston (1968), a tradition which is very prominent and clings to only one way of practicing music therapy.

The book is within the orientation of the natural science and the “Medical Model”. It represents the view of music therapy within a behavioral model, which looks at the symptoms and the overt behaviors of the client. The
music therapist is part of a team member and needs to become familiarized with every ones’ terminology (the physicians’, physical, occupational and speech therapists’, as well as the educators’). I always wondered why the
“team” never learnt the music therapist’s terminology. Maybe during my studies our profession was striving for recognition by the para-professionals and the scientific community, but so many years later, it is sad to see
ourselves still in the same placement within the team.

The prime emphasis of the book is “to provide information to help music therapists understand the characteristics of children seen in practice. Much available music therapy reference material is not included.” (p. VI). These are the author’s words, which states that there are very few music
therapy reference material in this book. The scarce music therapy material questions the usefulness of this book for the music therapist.

However, if you are a novice music therapist working with children with disabilities, this book by Wanda B. Lathom-Radocy, will answer many questions you may not know about a specific disability. It is a book mostly geared
towards the music therapist studying or practicing in the American system. 

The book is very informative and detailed about children with different disabilities, assessment tools, constructing goals for the purpose of the IEP (Individualized Educational Plan) and implementation of these goals
through music therapy in the school system and in other facilities. 

The Introduction to this book talks about American laws such as the Least Restrictive Environment (PL 94-142) , Individuals with Disabilities Education Acts (IDEA), Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) and more. All this may sound like meaningless terms to some, but this is relevant information to the practitioners practicing music therapy in the USA. With the reality of the American laws and its governmental funding systems this chapter is very helpful. 

The first chapter Music Therapy Assessment of Handicapped Children provides a broad picture of how and what to do when meeting a child for the first music therapy session. It presents assessment tools (including
a helpful sample) and is written very systematic and clear. In this chapter Lathom-Radocy introduces the CAMEOS model. This model categorizes the child’s different needs such as: Communication (C), Academic (A), Motor (M), Emotional (E), Organizational (O), and Social (S) needs. It establishes ways these may be addressed through music therapy. The child can be described within the CAMEOS model whether the child is homebound, included in regular classes, special education program or in hospital care. The disabilities in all chapters are organized according to the CAMEOS model. This model organizes the above topics into categorization, which could easily be understood
by all professions working with the same child. It also provides the therapist a standard way of working with all children. This may be helpful for the beginner therapist, but may restrict others.

The second chapter elaborates on Goals and Objectives for Children in Music Therapy. All goals and objectives are determined according to the child’s symptoms and behaviors. With this in mind, the chapter provides
concrete and practical ways to use musical activities for the purpose of achieving the goals. Lathom-Radocy is quite sensitive to the needs of cultural differences when determining objectives and goals.

The author of this book has done enormous research, especially in the medical area for each and every disability. She talks at length and in much detail about each disorder. The chapters 3-10 comprise of this information. Each chapter contains a different disability: “Mental Retardation”, “Children with Emotional and/or Behavioral Disorders”, “Speech- and Language-Impaired Children”, “Music Therapy for Children who are Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing”, “Children with Visual Impairments or Blindness, “Children with Orthopedic Impairments”, “Psychological Aspects of Care of Other Health-Impaired Children: Developmental Issues and Psychological Needs”, and “Other Health-Impaired Children: Specific Diseases Commonly seen in Hospitalized Children”. 

The information in chapter nine Psychological Aspects of Care of Other Health-Impaired Children: Developmental Issues and Psychological Needs was found very appropriate when dealing with children and their families in hospital care. 

The above chapters on disabilities, reminds me of medical source books (such as Children with Disabilities: A Medical Primer by Batshaw, M.L. and Perret, Y.M., 1993) and I’m sure there are more updated ones. The music
therapist can easily read this information in a medical source book or through the Internet, but then again, it is quite convenient to tie the scientific information with the music therapy suggestions. I am still not convinced that this type of detailed information is necessary in a music therapy text book. 

The last chapter Legal Considerations for the Music Therapist gives some good tips into the American law and legal consideration. This chapter is a reminder that each one of us should look into the laws of our country.
For the therapist practicing in the USA this is extremely relevant chapter.

Less attention is given to music therapy throughout the book. Although the music therapy information is quite helpful and with some nice examples (for the beginner music therapist or for a therapist assigned to work with
unfamiliar population), it is very limited. The musical examples are structured, while improvisation techniques are not mentioned as a possibility.

As mentioned earlier, the book uses no music therapy references. All the music therapy ideas and samples are taken from the author’s knowledge or experience working with different disabilities. In my opinion, the fact
that there are no music therapy references in a book titled Pediatric Music Therapy weakens this book.

In summary, this book could be helpful for the novice music therapist looking for a certain way of treating children with different disabilities. The text in this book is extremely clear and organized. It provides a clear
and prescribed music therapy for each and every disability and introduces the CAMEOS model. Although it provides ample scientific and other detailed information about various disabilities, the music therapy references are
quite limited as the only music therapy reference is by the author. 


Batshaw, Mark L., and Perret Yvonne M. (1993). Children with Disabilities: A Medical Primer. (3rd Edition). Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brooks Publishing Co.

Gaston, E. Thayer (1968). Music in Therapy. New York: Macmillan.

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