To understand the effect of music on social communication and auditory–motor brain connectivity in children with autism and developmental disabilities; to develop knowledge and skills in designing and implementing emerging evidence-based music interventions; to use music as a tool to increase social and verbal and non-verbal communication skills; to use music as a tool to improve the emotional well-being, self-expression, confidence, and overall quality of life.
I selected music as my area of focus, since music has always been an inseparable part of my life, as a passion, ray of and inspiration for everything I do. As I progressed in my studies and became proficient in the field of Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA), I learned that music is an emerging evidence-based tool to increase social and communication skills of children with ASD, while improving their emotional well-being, self-expression, confidence, and overall quality of life. I have since combined music with evidence-based strategies, and in doing so, I experienced success in my intervention goals.
Here comes the sun
'Here Comes the Sun' is one of my favourite songs by the Beatles. The music gets your toe tapping and gets you singing along, as it is so optimistic and bright and makes you feel good. When I listen to it I am filled with hope and relief. The rising sun, as a metaphor for better days coming our way, comes just when a long hard lonely winter seems to go on forever, "...and I say it's all right".
Children diagnosed with autism bring much light to our lives and to the world. Yet their journey and that of their families can be challenging in so many ways. Having worked with children diagnosed with autism and their families, I know that there is always hope for an improvement in their overall quality of life, and joy in their path. The song 'Here Comes the Sun' encapsulates this magical path of the fading troubles and the blossoming changes; at last the sun peeks over the tops of the hills, the snow melts, there are new leaves on the trees, and birds come out to sing.
How music impacts my practice
Music has become a widely used and important tool of treatment for people with autism spectrum disorder, having many benefits in a variety of different ways. As a universal and easily accessible language, requiring no words, music captivates many children with ASD in some undefinable way. They enjoy musical experiences because they are often “good at it”. They are intrigued by either the rhythmic qualities of music or its melodic and harmonic forms, and they can vocalize and communicate through music, all without the need for words, understanding its fundamental messages. Children with ASD thrive within music activities and it is often a preferred medium for them to engage with. They can rely on the music, anticipate and predict it with ease and familiarity, and it can extend their focus for long periods of time. Music has the power to supply all of these requirements for any child with ASD.
In my practice I use music in a variety of ways such as listening, expressing emotions, dancing, singing, improvising on different instruments, taking turns, or following instructions. As a behaviour therapist and musician, I see the huge benefits music has on my clients; they become more confident, develop their expressive language skills and engage with another person. It is a safe place for them to develop social communication skills, as well as their self-identity within a structured routine and rituals, ultimately improving and supporting their emotional well-being, and overall quality of life.
EPSE 512 | Critical Issues in Special Education
Critical article presentation:
Music improves social communication and auditory–motor connectivity in children with autism (Sharda et al., 2018)
I chose the presentation on this article as an artifact, because it addresses my area of focus ‘music interventions’, as part of my interest and ongoing journey to explore the benefits of music and the effect is has on social communication among children with autism and developmental disabilities. This presentation gave me the opportunity to share the positive results of the research, and to present music as an effective tool in working with children with autism.
EPSE 549 | Seminar in Autism
Music therapy as a therapeutic tool in improving the social skills of autistic children (Bharathi et al., 2019)
Music Therapy: An effective approach in improving social skills of children with autism (Ghasemtabar et al., 2015)
I chose my research summaries as an artifact, becuase they display my interest in the topic of music as a therapeutic tool in improving social skills of children with ASD. The articles helped me learn more about the effectiveness of music as an emerging evidence-based practice, with the goal of providing the best intervention for my clients, while combining my love for both music and individuals with ASD. Reading and summarizing these two articles gave me the opportunity to write about the similarities and differences between them, which ultimately gave me a broader look at the benefits of music for children with ASD.
Music-Based Lesson Plans for children with autism
I selected these music-based lesson plans as an artifact, as they directly relate to my area of focus 'music interventions'. These lesson plans were designed for my work in groups with early learners with autism, focusing on a theme such as body parts and feelings, with the goal of improving social, communication, emotional and play skills. By designing these lesson-plans, I learned to incorporate music into a fun, engaging and effective structured routine.