Fighting Autism with Music

The difference music can make for children

Music therapy has been practical in the treatment of autism. Autism is a neuro-developmental disorder that affects children, and its effects can be seen as early as infancy. Symptoms may appear at the age of six months, and the disorder is established before the child reaches three years of age.

Music has always been a way to get young people energized. Music that engages autistic children in dancing and singing works very well in helping them communicate and develop social skills. Autistic children respond to music by singing in the same note, and some of them may even start communicating through singing. They may take up an instrument to play, and this will help them gain interest in acquiring a certain skill. Music therapy can help different autistic patients in different ways, but generally, it is beneficial to them because it makes them more responsive to things around them.

Shema Kolainu – Hear Our Voices is hosting a free workshop on Music for children with autism on April 16th, 2013 from 10am to 12pm. It is open to all. If you would like to RSVP >>Click here>>
It will be focusing on including children with autism in the music curriculum and teaching them how to play a musical instrument this presentation explores techniques that are applicable to learners of all abilities and presented by Dr. Stephen Shore of Adelphi University and on the Advisory Committee for ICare4Autism.

A local group is trying to help kids with autism and other developmental disorders bring out their inner celebrity feelings .

Rock the Autism was started years ago by local musicians to play together and make a difference for those on ASD. It happened after its founders noticed the effect that music could have on children with autism

Rocky Neidhardt started the organization in 2010, after seeing the effect music had on Joe Santley’s son Luke, a member of the organization’s board of directors. ,” Neidhardt saw that music could make a difference in reaching autistic children and adults.

“Luke Santley sat right down on the drum set and did a perfect drum rollMusic has been shown as an effective therapy to help those with autism, as it helps to improve development in a number areas, such as word recognition and pre-writing skills. It also serves as an effective way to help students interact with one another and “neurotypical” children.”

 “That’s been one of the real breakthroughs,” Neidhardt said. Early on, he said, the program was split into two rooms, one for autistic and special needs children, and the other for neurotypical children. But that division isn’t necessary anymore, Neidhardt said. “The neurotypical children have fully embraced the special needs and autistic kids. They’re all friends and they’re pulling for each other.”

Neidhardt said that while the organization has used a number of different musical instruments, including bass guitar and piano, drums remain the most popular instrument option, as they were with Luke.

“They thrive on them,” Neidhardt said. “They usually just line up for it, and we usually have a great drum instructor to help them.” Initially, Neidhardt said he’d been told that drums might be problematic for some autistic children due t­o the noise. “They said it might be too much for them, that they’d run from the sound.” Neidhardt said. “We’ve had quite the opposite experience. We have a lot of kids who come with headphones or earmuffs on, and when they sit down, they’ll take them off and turn up the volume on the drums.”

Tammy-Jo Leonard, a friend of Neidhardt’s, said she knew the positive effect music could have after seeing how music had helped bring her own son out of his shell.

“It’s something we’ve always believed in,” Leonard said. “Once you see the look on their faces, the love of it, it’s amazing. It’s such a healthy, therapeutic outlet for them.”

For more information about the group, visit its website,