Music therapy - Working with an autistic 2 year old...

Share your experiences or ask for help with special needs students

Postby celia » Mon Nov 24, 2008 5:28 pm

Interesting, yes I know what you mean about the importance of aural and improvisation. I was the opposite of him, my music reading and sight reading skills very good but I was rubbish at aural which counts for not very much of the ABRSM exams I did. I am currently enjoying trying to fill in some of the gaps of my own music education and these are definitely areas I am working on. I actually can't believe I learnt so much about theory, chords, keys, structure and the rest with little concept of how to apply it when a page of music is not telling me what to play!!
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Postby celia » Fri Nov 28, 2008 1:07 am

The Betsey King book arrived a few days ago and I have chosen well because it is absolutely perfect for what I wanted - a brief introduction to all aspects of music therapy but tailored to working with mainly autistic children, or those with speech/communication and social difficulties... One of the great things is it has songs - only the melody is printed but it tells you which chords to use to accompany it so I am enjoying experimenting with improvising around these chords...and along with the songs it has visual aids. All very similar to what we do in pre-school, I played the "Hello" song on the guitar to my class today and they loved it!!!
I have known a few autistic children and I am familiar with many aspects of Special Education such as devising goals and strategies for IEPs (Individual Plans) So I don't see any harm in offering music sessions suitable for autistic children on the understanding that I am not a qualified music therapist... Any thoughts on this? If the child enjoys it then it can't do any harm and if they don't then we wouldn't have to continue...
I am also planning on training as an ABA (applied behaviour analysis) early intervention therapist for autistic children early next year. I guess if I do that then I maybe able to bring music into what I do with them in that role, although I would have to bring the guitar not the piano!!!
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Postby Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Ed » Sat Apr 04, 2009 9:13 am

One note of caution: Autism, ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder, ADHD, "hyperactivity") and other kinds of behavior issues with kids can only be diagnosed and treated by a medical or psychological professional. It's just too easy for the layman to confuse symptoms or place them in the wrong priority order. Similarly, one should not go to the medical professional saying something like "I know my child has ADD", as many doctors will simply begin treating the child for the disorder indicated by the parents. They are simply too busy to take the time to do a proper diagnosis, in at least some situations.

Second, "the Mozart Effect" is now largely discredited as a child developmental or treatment tool among medical professionals. That's not to say that music can't have some positive effects in other ways, but it's not really a treatment. That's also not to say that music therapy is discredited as a discipline. It is useful within limits for children and adults. Talk with your medical professional about it if you have a child who might need some help from music therapy.

Third, as many of the visitors to this Board know, my wife is a special ed teacher and transitional counselor. IEP's are a requirement of Federal law for special ed students in the U.S., not a medical tool. They can take into account medical diagnoses, but don't provide them. They are intended as aids for the school, parents and child in devising an educational program that is best suited for that child and his disabilities. I don't think there is anything wrong with offering music therapy to a child, if a medical professional agrees it would helpful. Without that backup, in the U.S., you might be setting yourself up for a lawsuit. :(




Edited By Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Editor on 1238858603
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Postby celia » Sun Apr 05, 2009 12:45 am

Update: I have been having R for music sessions since January. He is enjoying them very much. He has now been officially diagnosed with autism although I personally still have my doubts. I have drawn up a plan with "goals" for the child on it, such as interacting with me, eye contact, speech and communication, attention span, participation etc. It is not an IEP it is just to let the mother know what I plan to achieve from the sessions. The specialists were, in the mother's words, "very impressed" with the plan. It does not mention the child being autistic, the goals are similar to those I would set in a music session with any pre-school child... I am pleased with how it is all progressing, I am also training as an early intervention therapist working with another autistic child.
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Postby Tranquillo » Wed Apr 08, 2009 4:28 am

Are you looking at Music Therpay Celia still, how did that visit go for yourself?
Music is organised sound
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Postby celia » Thu Apr 09, 2009 10:34 pm

Hi Becibu,
Yes, I enjoyed the visit to observe the music therapist! She was working with a group of adults with learning difficulties (a learning age of about 12). It wasn't really a typical session as they were rehearsing for a Christmas "[Community Centre]'s Got Talent" competition, taking it in turns to play guitar, keyboard, drums, kareoke, dancing etc. It was a heart-warming experience, the music therapist had a great relationship with all her clients and clearly the music therapy brings a lot of joy into people's lives...
I'm afraid I am not going to be studying music therapy in the near future... I have just started a new job training as an early intervention therapist working with an autistic boy 2 1/2 days a week, in addition to my work as a piano teacher and with dyslexic students... I love all my jobs, I just can't fit anything else in!! As well as my work with R, I am also teaching piano to the autistic boy I am working with (H), along with his brother and sister (separate sessions) I am also doing the songs and activities from the music therapy book with him, he loves this. I am starting to find that I can play the songs without concentrating consciously AT ALL which means all my energy can go into interacting with the child...
Are you still considering music therapy? I would be very interested to keep in touch with you and find out how it all goes... All the best, Celia
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