featured Incorporating Music Into Daily Routines: Family Education and Integration Darcy Walworth, Ph.D., MT-BC, NICU-MT Florida State University
The challenges faced by children on the autism spectrum are varied within the areas of social interaction, communication and repetitive or restrictive behavior. This article will focus on intervention recommendations made by the National Research Council Committee on Educational Interventions after reviewing the research literature addressing effective intervention techniques for children on the autism spectrum. The incorporation of these recommendations into clinical practice and into the home environments will be highlighted as well, with comments from a family who has successfully integrated music therapy techniques into their home.
Darcy Walworth, Ph.D., MT-BC, NICU-MT
The National Research Council (2001) recommends that intervention interactions should teach functional skills in a conventional, nonthreatening environment with natural reward systems, which is attainable for music therapists working with children who enjoy music. Engaging in music making is a naturally occurring reward for many children, and serves as a motivator for using language, socializing, and playing instruments in functional and appropriate ways.
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Determining the appropriate intervention techniques for each child is an individualized process that involves input from all treatment team members and must include family members (Lord & McGee, 2001). Parents are not the only meaningful participants in the therapeutic process, however; peers need to be present to aid in clients generalizing skills to peer settings (Bartak & Rutter, 1973). How do music therapists incorporate peers and family members into the therapeutic process? One option is to restructure the therapeutic session of individualized services into group sessions with peers and family members present. The addition of peers and family members provides many natural and meaningful situations for communication to 28
Additional early childhood music therapy resources available at www.imagine.musictherapy.biz.