What is Autism Spectrum Disorder, also known now as (ASD)? If you look it up in the dictionary it states, “A mental condition, present from early childhood, characterized by difficulty in communicating and forming relationships with other people and in using language abstract concepts.” In real life we know AUTISM is so much more complicated than that. If you know anything about autism, there are different levels of functioning, high, moderate and low. However there are so many grey areas even in between those three levels and lines can be blurred together. Children with ASD have trouble in three different areas; social interaction, communication (both verbal and nonverbal) and behaviors and interests. However, working with special needs children, you know no child with ASD is the same they will all have their own pattern of autism. Below you will find some ways that music can be beneficial to these children.
What is music therapy? It is using music as an intervention. To use music therapeutically, you need to first know how it is helping these students. It can help with behavioral, social, psychological, communicative, physical, sensory-motor, and or cognitive functioning. Music is a powerful and non-threatening medium, which has the potential for unique outcomes. Without you even realizing it, music can enhance the quality of one’s life.
Music can enable children without verbal language to communicate, participate and express themselves nonverbally. Very often music also assists in the development of verbal communication, speech, and language skills.
Music can help children with autism focus on their strengths and identify/express their emotions properly.
Music can provide concrete, multi-sensory stimulation (auditory, visual, vestibular, and tactile).
Teaching music to a child with autism can be intimidating or scary. However using a combination of different teaching tools, a lot of patience, a sense of humor and a good deal of flexibility will help when teaching a student with any kind of disability.
For example, using a mix of multisensory teaching techniques may work. Letting them feel and explore the instrument, tapping rhythms, clapping rhythms, using visual aides to teach note values, even moving around the room to dance different note values can help. Using pieces of music based on existing interests will help, such as a nursery rhyme or little Einstein classical music for younger children.