Many parents with children on the spectrum face challenges in taking their child out into a variety of public settings. For Katrina Davis, a family services advisor, she thinks of all the places her son can’t go every time she … Continue reading
Tuesday, at Shema Kolainu Hear Our Voices, Stephen Shore Ed. D. held a workshop on music education for children on the autism spectrum. Shore completed his doctoral degree in special education at Boston University and now teaches at Adelphi University in New York. Having been diagnosed on the autism spectrum and non-verbal until the age of 4, Shore brings a unique perspective to the field of special education. He attributes much of his success to the comprehensive interventions his parents guided and the music education he received from an early age. Subsequently, his approach to education is one of both specialization and inclusion. Shore’s strategies are developed particularly for the varying abilities of autistics, but are applicable for neurotypical education as well, allowing for integrated classrooms. While music is often recognized for it’s therapeutic benefits, Shore’s focus is not therapy, but structured, sustained education. Today’s workshop demonstrated the potential of music education to increase communicative abilities, strengthen neurological development in youth, foster social inclusion, and provide potential career paths for those with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Shore charismatically relayed stories of his students’ astonishing talents. One anecdote told of a non-verbal young man who, when guided hand-over-hand while playing piano, sang clear as day. Shore suggests that the structure, support, and focus the student experienced while guided to play the piano enabled him to sing, though he could not speak typically. Drawing from examples of students demonstrating expert knowledge in areas, who are unable to express understanding through certain mediums, Shore makes the case for specialized assessments in education in general, not just for students with developmental disabilities.
Check out Dr. Stephen Shore’s work and many publications at his website: http://www.autismasperger.net/. The workshop, ‘Music for Children on the Autism Spectrum,’ will be streaming soon—stay tuned to see Dr. Stephen Shore speak
In an article for Psychology Today, Dr. Ian Stuart-Hamilton explains linguistic interpretation as affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder, noting that the combination of calculative characteristics and language barriers that define autistic persons to varying degrees makes for an awkward understanding of common phrases. Dr. Stuart-Hamilton tells an anecdote of a woman with high-functioning autism doing so well in her accounting position that her boss complemented her with an English phrase saying the woman was so good she could, “wrap her up in a cotton wool and take her home.” Subsequently the accountant with ASD locked herself in her office for fear of her manager wanting to kidnap her, staying there until firemen gained entry to the office and explained the whole mix-up. This is extreme, perhaps, but this colloquial confusion is common and can cause a great deal of emotional stress for persons with ASD. Dr. Stuart-Hamilton asserts that in addition to the characteristics of ASD itself, autistic persons have trouble comprehending colloquialisms because their literal understanding disables them from learning such contradicting, confusing phrases in context and these phrases are rarely taught formally. Avoiding conflict-causing phrases altogether may be a long-term disservice for ASD persons, who will likely encounter confusing phrases in various contexts as adults. Dr. Stuart-Hamilton suggests that parents and teachers stick to literal phrasing when providing instruction, but speak freely in casual conversation, introducing ASD persons to problem phrases and taking the time to explain why the common understanding and literal meaning are different. At Shema Kolainu we are always thinking of our kids’ futures. We are dedicated to preparing our students for inclusion in all activities.
To read Dr. Stuart-Hamilton’s article, visit: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-gift-aging/201304/people-autism-spectrum-disorder-take-things-literally
Stuart-Hamilton, Ian, PhD. “People with Autism Spectrum Disorder Take Things Literally.” Psychology Today. N.p., 7 Apr. 2013. Web. 7 Apr. 2013. <http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-gift-aging/201304/people-autism-spectrum-disorder-take-things-literally>.