Autism + Music Therapy = meeting unique challenges and needs of each individual with autism, no matter how diverse their level of abilities and disabilities.
Autism is complex, and requires on-going assessment and careful monitoring of individual strengths and deficits in diverse areas – communication, social interaction, daily living skills, restrictive interests, repetitive actions, sensory sensitivities. We cannot assume, for example, a non-verbal high school student with autism is unable to read or to understand physics. We cannot assume a college graduate and successful professional with autism is toilet-trained. The Autism Society of America describes the uneven and unpredictable nature of autism by stating “although autism is defined by a certain set of behaviors, children and adults with autism can exhibit any combination of these behaviors in any degree of severity. Two children, both with the same diagnosis, can act completely different from one another and have varying capabilities” (Characteristics of Autism, 2008).
In their clinical work, music therapists often find the wide variety of music applications allows many options for addressing the mixed bag of needs of each individual. Music therapists can take into consideration the unique combination of characteristics of a person when developing personalized music therapy strategies and interventions, thereby maximizing each person’s potential and impacting their quality of life. As is specified in the 2010 Scope of Practice of the Certification Board of Music Therapists, therapists learn to, among other things, use ‘creativity and flexibility in meeting client’s changing needs’ (CBMT 2010 Scope of Practice II, A, 5, g) as determined by ‘continually reviewing and revising treatment plans, and modifying treatment approaches accordingly’ (CBMT 2010 Scope of Practice III, B, 4.)”