The Music and Autism Connection
As defined by Autism Speaks, Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and autism are both general terms for a group of complex disorders of brain development. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors.
1.Music therapy and autism research supports a link between musical processing strengths and autism and the use of music as a therapeutic intervention.
2.Singing can be an in-road to promote early speech by helping children access new neurological pathways to compensate for communication deficits.
3.Music is at its core a structured way to present information. Melodic and rhythmic patterns give students with autism a way to organize auditory information and help memorize scripts, task sequences, and academic facts.
4.Music can help individuals with autism make social and family connections through a mutual shared interest
5.Music is a creative medium that can offer a motivating and safe way to explore more flexibility and spontaneity.
How Music Therapy Songs for Autism Can Help
Tuned in to Learning® helps students with autism by
1.Fulfilling special education IDEA legal requirements which states that the student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) should take into account the student’s strengths, interests, and learning preferences.
2.Making repetitive learning tasks seem like fun rather than work
3.Providing a multi-sensory approach that taps into visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learning
4.Offering a sensory outlet through movement, interaction, and hands-on involvement helping to keep students with autism engaged
5.Bridging the gap within inclusion settings between students with autism and neurotypical peers
Five Music and Autism Tips
1.If your child can’t fill in the last word to a song phrase, give them a movement to imitate instead.
2. Set a Social Story™ to a familiar children’s tune or chant it to a rhythmic beat.
3.Use novelty to increase motivation: sing in a silly voice, create sound effects, or bring out the bubbles!
4.Choose relevant musical rewards. Instead of using a food reward for completion of a color task, use a rainbow xylophone as a reward, or as an actual way to teach colors.
5.Help your child tap their hand to a beat with each syllable when working on speech imitation. Read more about Auditory-Motor Mapping research for autism here.
Autism Music Research Findings
Music therapy research findings demonstrate that individuals with autism may show equal or superior abilities in pitch processing, labeling of emotions in music, and musical preference when compared to typically developing peers. The most compelling evidence supporting the clinical benefits of music therapy lies in the areas of social-emotional responsiveness and communication, including increased compliance, reduced anxiety, increased speech output, decreased vocal stereotypy, receptive labeling, and increased interaction with peers. Preliminary findings also support the potential for music to assist in the learning of daily routines.