What is Autism?
Before delving into how music & autism connect, it is important to define Autism.
Also known as Autism Spectrum Disorder, Autism “refers to a range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication, as well as by unique strengths and differences. We now know that there is not one autism but many types, caused by different combinations of genetic and environmental influences.”
The word “spectrum” is included to acknowledge the wide variety of ways this condition affects different people, the challenges they face, and their strengths and weaknesses. Autism affects everyone in a different, unique way.
Autism often begins to show clear signs when children are toddlers (2-3 years old), but it sometimes becomes apparent earlier than that. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that 1 in 68 children lives with Autism Spectrum Disorder. It also more common in boys than girls. Not all children with Autism are mentally disabled – only one third have an intellectual disability.
Lone Star School of Music is Autism Certified!
We are proud to announce that we are not an official Autism-Certified Music School, recognized by the Autism Society. You can learn more about what this certification means by reading our blog here!
Meet our Autism-trained instructors by clicking here.
Types of Autism
As previously mentioned, Autism manifests itself in a variety of ways.
About 30% of autistic children are non-verbal, meaning they do not communicate using speech or only use a few words. Even within that realm, non-verbal autism can mean a child does not speak at all, only uses a few words and cannot carry on a conversation, or are able to speak but unable to string words together in a meaningful way.
Autism manifests in each person differently. Everyone is unique.
Others communicate using typed or written language. Still, other autistic children are verbal but have other defining characteristics, such as:
- Having obsessive interests
- Unusual reactions to smell, sight, feel, sound, taste
- Getting upset by minor changes
- Flapping their hands, rocking their body, spinning in circles, or other movements
- Avoiding eye contact and social interaction
- Repetition of certain words and phrases
- Difficulty understanding other people’s feelings or expressing themselves
- Delayed speech or language skills
- Not responding to their name by the time they’re 1 year old
Treatment must be unique, as each child with ASD is unique.
The Link Between Music & Autism
Research has consistently shown the transformative power of music. It can positively impact health, social skills, and even the functioning of your brain. Especially for special needs children, music has the power to improve their lives. Hence, music & autism go hand in hand.
In 2004, the Journal of Music Therapy published a study regarding this phenomenon. The findings stated that musical intervention used with children and teenagers with Autism has a lot of benefits. These included improved social behaviors, increased focus and attention, communication skills, lower anxiety, and better body awareness and coordination.
Music can be used as a therapeutic tool for all types of autism.
Many children with non-verbal ASD even use music as a way to communicate. Enrolling a child with ASD in music lessons can lead to wonderful things. The results are often astounding, like in the video below.
Music doesn’t just level the playing field for these kids. They are actually rising above the competition when involved in music. For example, 1 in 10,000 people have the ability to identify a note without reference to an instrument; however, 1 in 20 autistic children involved in music therapy can. They are ahead of the competition in terms of identifying notes and instruments and can remember music more easily than those without ASD. While many autistic children have trouble identifying other people’s emotions, putting emotion in the context of music actually solves this problem. In addition, music lessons can provide these children with improved social and communication skills. It’s extremely motivational and highly successful at improving the quality of life for people with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Music Lessons for Autistic Children
It can be tough to find the right place for your autistic child to take music lessons. Thankfully, at Lone Star School of Music, our instructors are dedicated to providing an environment that is positive and welcoming, one which celebrates our differences and makes each child feel that they belong. If you’re ready to see how music can impact your autistic child’s life for the better, call us and enroll your child in music lessons today! We can’t wait to share the joy of music with you and your child.
Music & Autism: Music Helps Autistic Children – Autism Music Lessons | Lone Star School of Music – Austin, TX