OMT In the News

On KETV....  Check out the story done in the Spring of 2018 by the talented Erin Hassanzadeh!

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On the KETV website, 2018

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KMA Land Radio, Spring 2019

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Ohana Kids News, a great resource for special needs families in Nebraska and Iowa.  OMT LLC has been a resource here since 2013.

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The following is a copy of a story about OMT in the Omaha Family Magazine from July 2013.  Unfortunately, it is old enough to not be on the website, but I had a copy to share. 

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Music Therapist Emily Wadhams; 

Using Her Passion and Talent to Help Children and Adults with Special Needs 

by Leah Parodi


Emily Wadhams is a gifted vocalist who loves to sing and loves to help people. Put these two passions together and you have a music therapist who is able to reach children and adults in a way that surprises those closest to them. Emily is a Board Certified Music Therapist with a certification in Hospice Palliative Care Music Therapy. She has been in private practice since completing her training in 2003 and provides treatment to individuals and groups and works with children and adults with a range of disabilities including autism, Alzheimer’s, cancer and older adults in assisted living facilities. Emily, who has been singing and taking vocal lessons since she was a young girl, was introduced to the idea of a career in music therapy by her mother. It was an idea that she feel in love with. Emily attended the University of Dayton in Ohio followed by a yearlong internship in Denton, Texas. After passing her certification test she worked with students in a local school district as well as adults, geriatric patients and those in hospice care. Emily discovered that there was no population that she did not want to work with.

Emily, now a wife and mother of two young daughters, has a private practice in Omaha and works with a wide variety of clients. “In private practice I am all over the board and some people come to me and some I go to them. I work individually with kiddos with autism, I work with a lady with speech difficulties and I work with a senior group at a local Church in their art and music program.”

And while Emily works with adult clients, many of her clients are children and that takes her into an area school. She works with young clients that have a variety of special needs including the spectrum of autism. As a music therapist working with children, Emily uses music to attain non-musical goals to create change and is not providing music lessons. And although many clients learn how to sing or play an instrument, the goal is to help the child achieve educational goals and to motivate socialization, self-expression, communication and motor skill development. Emily gets children involved at their own pace by using a variety of techniques that help promote confidence, social skills and education.

When Emily works one-on-one with her young clients she explores and looks at multiple motivators and instruments as well as types of music. She uses what the child is drawn to and uses that for therapeutic change. “Our training is extensive and we are taught that music is so individualized and there are no set rules,” says Emily. “Children will react differently to the same music so we, as music therapists, are unstructured and very individualized. Every session is so different which is a challenge but also a lot of fun.”

Emily says that she taps into the child’s creativity and that helps them express themselves. For example; the child will tap out a rhythm on the drums and she will follow on another instrument. “The child gets to lead and this is a moment when they get to be in charge. It brings out their playfulness, they will sing and dance, which is not something that they may normally do.” Emily adds that music therapy is an effective treatment even though we are not all musical. “I have kiddos who cannot sing but still have appreciation for music. Occasionally I do have a child who does not respond to music, but that is unusual.”

“Kids enjoy our sessions. I am the music lady and this is the reason I love my job. And so many kids get help from music therapy. Sometimes they do not respond to speech or occupational therapy but they respond to the music and can achieve the same goals.”

Music therapy helps many children with a wide range of developmental challenges including those with autism. “There is something about the brain of a child with autism that responds to music. There is an intrinsic ability to play an instrument or sing a song without knowing the notes. They are able to figure the music out just from the sound. Music motivates them.”

The benefits of music therapy come in the forms of improved social, gross motor and educational skills as well as cognitive learning and speech. “My clients have innate music ability and they can pick up what took me semesters to learn,” she laughs. “These kids are also drawn to math and science, music has math.” Emily adds that music therapy goes farther for her clients in that it increases quality of life for her students. “The kids see siblings going to soccer or dance and this is a place for them, it is fun for them but also a therapeutic experience.”

The successes of Emily’s clients are rewarding for her as a therapist and more so for the parents of her students. “I have a middle of the road autistic young girl as a patient who would not have any eye or physical contact with me. During a session she picked up a drum and I picked up a guitar and starting playing a rock and roll song and she looked me in the eye! Her mom started to cry, I started to cry.” Emily says that this client now regularly is making eye contact during sessions and is beginning to have more eye contact out of therapy as well.

It is Emily’s extensive training and connection to her clients that enable her to reach and help her “kiddos”. But it may be Emily’s own personal experience that makes her so invaluable to those she works with, especially as a role model to parents. Emily and her husband have two girls ages 3 ½ and 19 months. Their oldest daughter, Emily says, is a typical kiddo. Her youngest daughter, however, was born with a condition that causes brain abnormalities that prevents her cerebellum from growing at a proper rate and as a result, her daughter has mild hearing loss and several developmental delay issues.

Emily, as a testament to her training and the person that she is, speaks positively about her younger daughter and her accomplishments. “She crawled last week! And that is huge! She is so vibrant, joyfully and there is so much behind her eyes. Even if her motor skills are delayed, cognitively there is a lot there. My husband and I are optimistic and don’t focus on the negative, but with our daughter we kind of had to change our expectations of what her life will be like.”

To help their daughter and other families with children with disabilities, Emily and her husband are in the process of forming a support group. They are not only looking for parents and families to join them but looking for resources as well, including of course, Emily’s area of expertise. “Parents that I meet and tell them about music therapy are excited to have this as a resource.” She encourages parents to go to her website for links and resources to help get music therapy in their child’s curriculum or IEP.

Emily Wadhams is a passionate and talented wife and mother who is making a difference in the lives of all of her clients. From young children to older adults, as a music therapist she is helping them enjoy music as well as learn from it. For more information on music therapy, Emily’s support group, I.D.E.A., other pertinent links or to contact her, visit www.omahamusictherapy.com.

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The attached article was written by Emily Wadhams, MT-BC for the Friends of Children with Special Needs Community in San Jose, CA in 2008.  
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Emily Wadhams,
May 16, 2019, 6:07 PM