Can Children on the Autism Spectrum Enjoy and Learn Music?

When my son “Buddy” was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome around the age of six, one of my first thoughts regarding his education was that he wouldn’t want to learn about music and likely would not become a musician. Well, that is where stereotypes will land you… I should have known better, but what little I knew about the Autism Spectrum at the time flooded my mind. Those “facts” tried to drown out what I already knew about my son.

We had already been homeschooling for over a year and music was an important part of Buddy’s education. I am a musician and had dreamed of being a music teacher. I knew that Buddy was sensitive to loud music and noise – unless he was the one making it. We had already delved into music appreciation and history. Buddy also had quite a collection of musical instruments he enjoyed experimenting with.

Buddy needs to be in control of the volume and the duration of the music. Certain instruments are a real irritation to him; however, he thoroughly enjoys music as a whole.

So the big question is:

Does being on the Autism Spectrum preclude someone from enjoying, learning, and/or creating music?

Definitely not!

Don’t get me wrong. There is a good chance that a child on the spectrum will not be able to enjoy music, because of audio sensitivities. As the parent, you will be the one to answer this question regarding your child. The point is that being on the spectrum does not automatically rule music enjoyment out.

Where can you start?

Always remember to keep it fun and positive. Watch your child’s cues and mood. You may only get to experience half of a song and that is OK.

Does your child enjoy music from favorite cartoons? Start there. Listen to it together. Talk about the music and what you like about it. Find out what they like, then try to expand on that. There are a some cartoons with some nice music these days. For example: The Backyardigans, Baby Einstein, The Wiggles, and many more.

Encourage your child to move to the music, clap along with it, and/or sing along. Start simple and let your child show you the way he or she wants to go.


*  This was originally posted on my previous blog on March 9, 2011.