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Connecting With a Child Who Has Autism: Music Works

Posted by Brian Spence on Jul 29, 2019 8:00:00 AM

Autism, Music, Behavioral HealthDo you know somebody diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD)? You have probably heard some of the symptoms and The Diagnostic Statistics Manual offers this clinical criteria for diagnosing ASD:

  • Persistent deficits in social communication and social interaction across multiple contexts;
  • Restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, or activities;
  • Symptoms must be present in the early development period;
  • Symptoms cause clinically significant impairment...in functioning;
  • These disturbances are not better explained by intellectual ability or global developmental delay.

In other words, it is so difficult for someone with ASD to express and receive social cues that interaction and social functioning is very difficult for them. Acceptance of the lack of social interaction is difficult for family, friends, and caregivers who want to know, "Is there anything we can do to help?"

Are there more cases of autism now or do I just hear about it more?

Andrew Whitehouse reported in his article, "Do more children have autism now than before?" that the incidence of autism diagnoses is rapidly increasing. That leaves us wondering not only why, but how can we help? As the number of ASD cases increases, so do the suggestions of how we might reach out to these children.

How are some people stimulating communication?

Jaap van Zweden (Conductor of the NY Philharmonic) and his wife, Aaltje, explained in a 60-Minutes interview with Lesley Stahl how they connected with their son who has autism and helped him learn to talk. You don't have to be a professional musician to try out their system! The couple said they sang children's songs with their son and one day it just happened they left out a word. The child reacted physically to the missed word. Seeing this response, the parents continued to leave out the same word, which appeared bothersome to the child and then one day they told him they would use the word, but he had to say it first. This was the first word the child ever spoke. Then, the couple generalized and started leaving out more words; this is how they taught their son to talk.

Music helps many children with autism interact positively.

Jinah Kim (Department of Arts Therapy, College of Alternative Medicine, Jeonju University), Tony Wigram, and Christian Gold conducted a study which observed that children in improvisational music therapy sessions interacted more frequently and positively than they did when they were in toy play sessions.

The Healthcare Industry has come a long way in learning to treat ASD.

Trained professionals and specialists are developing and testing new ideas about how to help both children and adults with ASD so they can function socially in public and private life, enabling them to be more productive and to enjoy life.

If interested in working with individuals with autism, contact to learn about job opportunities.

And to learn more about this and related topics, visit the Education and Behavioral Health sections of our blog.

 

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Topics: Behavioral Health, Education

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