Autism Awareness Month
April is Autism Awareness Month! I have worked with many individuals who have a diagnosis of autism and have seen so much growth and progress through their journey in music therapy! Some of the goals I want to touch on in this month’s newsletter include communication, academics skills, social skills, and sensory regulation.
Many of the clients I have worked with over the years have needed to work on their language and communication skills. This can range from being able to communicate wants and needs, to how to form sentence structure, and anything in between or past that! When working on expressing wants/needs I often do this by encouraging “I want” phrases, which is especially motivating when asking for songs and instruments they want to play! We then progress to saying “Can I have…”, answering yes/no and ‘wh’ questions, and much more. We also work on sounds the letters of the alphabet make so that they can form their words and begin their writing skills. Through all of these things I utilize music cues to help the students learn, express themselves, and utilize the music itself to help encourage and engage clients.
In music therapy we can also work on academic skills. Right now I am working with many students on being able to identify and count numbers and letters, as well as helping improve handwriting skills as well! Similar to the communication skills I have music cues that I have created to help individuals understand and engage in these interventions and skills more so than they would without the music component.
Individuals on the Autism Spectrum often lack social skills to some extent so working on these areas are often goals, especially when in a group setting. We often work on things like turn taking and sharing, emotions, and how to communicate with others
Often times, individuals on the spectrum also have trouble self-regulating when they are overwhelmed. Music therapy can play a big role in helping these individuals with sensory regulation, whether it is through sound or touch. There are a variety of instruments and manipulatives that provide a range of tactile stimulation to help with regulation. Along those same lines, there is definitely a wide range of music and sounds that can be produced through musical instruments that can also help individuals become “grounded” and help them go back to baseline (calm, well regulated, able to function as they typically do). All things that can be worked on during music therapy sessions.
Through all of these domains (communication, academic, social, and sensory) music therapy can have a huge impact in the growth of individuals on the Autism Spectrum. If this article has sparked any questions, let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.