On behalf of The Rebecca Center for Music Therapy at Molloy College, I would like to thank all of our 400+ fans (on facebook) for following us as we continue this journey of improving the quality of life of children with autism through effective and cutting-edge music therapy interventions. We have been on a mission, and in essence creating a movement through educating and promoting humanistic and developmental interventions that promote initiative, creativity, and high regard for human relationships. We have come to the realization that autism is not a disorder of memory or a disorder of behavior (whatever that means)…it is a disorder of RELATING AND COMMUNICATING (When I say communication, I mean functional and conversational back and forth signaling between 2 or more individuals- with the INTENT to express and idea, thought, etc.) So, if that’s the case, why is it that most children with autism are being treated with memory-based/behavioral interventions? why? why? why?
If communication and language are based on symbolism, abstract thinking and initiating ideas through a wide range of affects/emotion, how can we facilitate these skills through memorized responses using prompts? Does that make sense? How do you teach a child to initiate ideas if there always being prompted? How do we teach a child to formulate ideas and be symbolic if they are always being provided with the ideas in terms of always being “asked” to do something for something? (“say this,” “do that, ” “good job”) the answer, I feel, is very simple…: the same way we facilitate reciprocal interactions, symbolism and language in typical developing babies/children- through a continuous flow of back and forth interaction! That being said, when I say back and forth interaction I am not referring to a scenario in which you tickle a baby, he laughs, you tickle him/her again, he/she laughs. What I mean is, you tickle a baby, he/she laughs…then, you slowly move away with a smile and wait, stop, use a facial gesture, little Tommy looks and smiles in anticipation and cues you when to come back and tickle him. Then you get closer and he initiates a tickle.
Yes, of course it’s hard work when trying to relate to a child who may not be wired, neurologically for relating…but isn’t it all about the relationship?- the process and the hard work in creating this creative and playful space between the child …I think words relating and relationships are the keys words.
All of this being said, how do we do this in music therapy? How do we create interactive musical experiences through musical play? How can we create this musical “play area” in which you and the child are involved in affective and reciprocal musical interactions that do not rely on the child’s memory, but instead facilitate here-and-now musical responses? How can we as music therapists, use the elements of music spontaneously to generate an interaction that facilitates constant thinking of the child while being involved in a back and forth flow of musical dialogue through a wide range of emotions?
Thoughts? Ideas? Feedback? Agree? Disagree? Let’s problem-solve folks…I’ll stop the ranting now…:):)