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Suzuki Violin: May Help Child with ADHD

What a treat it is to read about Sharlene Habermeyer’s son.  Mom filled his life with music and saw to it that he took music lessons.

In an article in ADDitude, Sharlene Habermeyer explains that when her child was born the experts told her that her new baby probably would not graduate from high school and certainly not from college.

Mom didn’t take no for an answer.

This is a story of a boy who had several learning issues including ADHD, auditory discrimination, visual-motor, visual perception, and sensory motor challenges due to problems during birth.  Early in her research on what to do to help her baby, Habermeyer discovered that all learning disabilities start with auditory processing.

Children with auditory processing issues

Children with auditory processing problems have normal hearing but have difficulty making sense and meaning from sounds especially when there is background noise. What I find fascinating is that in school, teachers see a child who looks like every other child—alert, smart, bright eyed—but when they explain something to the child, he doesn’t understand in the way the teacher expects. Some teachers may become annoyed, thinking the child is purposefully not trying to understand. Perhaps the teacher thinks the child wants to draw attention to himself.

Auditory processing issues are tricky to diagnose because the psychologist who does the academic testing doesn’t necessarily test for auditory processing.  That is usually left up to an audiologist.

What does auditory processing disorder look like?

With auditory processing disorder, there is a glitch that scrambles how the brain processes sounds. People with problems in this area may find it difficult to block out background noise. Also, they may process thoughts and ideas slowly. They may have difficulty understanding metaphors, similes, even puns and jokes.

Furthermore, students with auditory processing issues may have difficulty paying attention in class. They may look like they are daydreaming or disinterested.

What this mother did.

Habermeyer discovered that music might be the key to unlocking her son’s ability to learn. She reports that she found out that music strengthens areas of the brain that are weak such as the auditory, visual-spatial, and motor areas. These areas are tied to vital systems for learning: speech, language, reading, math, focus, and concentration.

She reports that “when learning-disabled children and children with ADHD learn a musical instrument, attention, concentration, impulse control, social functioning, self-esteem, self-expression, motivation, and memory improve.”  Some studies show that children who are disturbed by background noise find music lessons particularly helpful.

A Suzuki Mom in disguise

This mom was really a Suzuki mom in disguise. She played classical music for her son since birth, and by 18 months he was in a group music program. She started him with private lessons and suggests parents start private lessons by age 5 and certainly before age 7. She also suggests a very Suzuki idea –that the parent should take lessons also.  Because children with ADHD need to move around, she suggests ADHD friendly instruments such as strings which allow the child to stand and move while playing.

Today the son who was told he might not even graduate from high school is a college graduate and works in the film industry.


Great testimony for music lessons for one boy and a determined mom.