You Can Be Better
Music Therapy anti-bullying song for special needs individuals.
Goal: Client will respond appropriately to verbal and physical bullying.
Domains: Social, Behavior
A cross-categorical special education classroom consists of students with a variety of diagnoses: intellectual disability, autism, physical disability, behavior disorder, etc. A 10-year-old boy with autism I’m working with is in one of these classrooms and unfortunately he needs help learning how to deal with some the behavior disorder students picking on him. Of course bullying does not happen only in special education classrooms, but for a child with autism determining the correct response to social situations can be especially difficult.
I began by finding some anti-bullying music videos on YouTube to show the client. While these videos contained positive messages, they weren’t very realistic… most people don’t go from hitting to high-fiving in the span of a three-minute pop song. However, I believe watching the videos brought some comfort to the boy, giving him the knowledge that there are others out there struggling with these same issues.
The videos also spurred a conversation about specific situations the child has had to deal with. These included people laughing at him, bothering him in a variety of ways, and saying mean things. In addition to these verbal situations, he also described various physical situations involving pushing, kicking, and hitting.
The client shared a couple of great insights during our conversation. He told me that one of his classroom rules was to “treat others like you would want to be treated” and was able to explain the sentiment behind this golden rule. He also spoke of a girl who used to bully him, one day he gave her a compliment on how her fingernails were painted, and (ta-dah!) she has not bothered him since. This led to the theme of the song – being better. This could be defined as the child himself being better than he had been in past situations or by being better than a bully by responding with kindness instead of violence.
The lyrics of the song list the various problems and then repeat them, immediately followed by solutions to the problems. The song is two verses long – the first dealing with verbal abuse and the second dealing with physical aggression. The hope is that the song will serve as a mnemonic device for the child to refer to in times of crisis and enable him to respond appropriately. The download includes an instrumental version in case the lyrics need to be altered to address the situations an individual you work with is experiencing.
- You Can Be Better [mp3 audio file]
- You Can Be Better (instrumental) [mp3 audio file]
- You Can Be Better – Lyrics [PDF]
- You Can Be Better – Lyrics & Chords [PDF]