Musical Therapy Breakthrough By Children's Entertainers Helps Autistic Kids Improve Motor Skills, Stimulate Brain Growth Shanti Malladi MS, OTR/L in conjunction with the popular children's songwriting and performing team Lori & RJ, of Cotton Candy Express Music have developed a musical activity program for special needs children that is gaining support as a successful therapeutic tool for autistic and other special needs children. The program, called the Figure 8 Suite, encourages children to follow a set pattern of music and movement that integrates both sides of the brain and body, thereby stimulating brain growth and teaching new motor skills. Originally researched and designed for this purpose, the Figure 8 Suite is surprisingly effective and has quickly gained the endorsement and support of therapists, educators and organizations involved in treating autistic children. Shanti Malladi (MS,OTR/L), is an APT Board Member (Association of Pediatric Therapists) and works as a therapist with the Fremont Unified School District in Northern California. She used the music of Lori & RJ in therapy sessions and noticed a special attraction by the children to the lively, upbeat lyrics and music. The Figure 8 Suite was then developed in association with the singer/songwriters. The Figure 8 Suite is an infinity pattern placed on the floor. Children move around the pattern while lively music with guided lyrics directs them to make fun sounds and movements. In the Figure 8, children learn to 'cross the midline' (which some children with special needs have great difficulty doing), which integrates both sides of the brain and body. Each set of 'exercises' build upon one another to reach this goal. Children develop self-awareness and social communication skills, enhance imagination/visualization and develop better play skills. Parents and Therapists can use the program with special needs kids, including children diagnosed with ADD, ADHD learning disabilities as well as Autism. Wheelchair users can also replicate most of the movements.