Self Regulation, Music Therapy and an Autistic Child?

 Looking Through The Chaos

Imagine living in a body where nothing is predictable.  Day and night come and go without much recognition or seem to be an unidentifiable background seen which is barely noticeable.  The world that is seen, heard and or felt is so unpredictable and uncontrolled that soiling oneself goes completley unnoticed.  What must it be like to live in a world like this?  How can one break through to a person who stares off in space because everything coming in is so erratic, unpredictable and disorganized that there is no one single thing to notice.  All one can do is stand still and hope it’s ok.  Stand still and wave his hands or flick his fingers.  At least with this motion, he feels something.  He is pretty sure he exists.

How does Music Therapy fit in here?  As I mentioned in a previous blog, the children often simultaneously bring to Music Therapy their strengths and their needs.  If the only way at this time that this time responds to music is to flap his hands or tweak his fingers, will take it!

As the boy flaps, the therapist begins to play to the beat, the speed of the flapping.  If it’s not regulated flapping, the therapist will improvise some kind of tune with syncopated rhythms (jazz or blues possibly) that gives the irregular flapping a pattern.  The same phrases will played over and over again as the child begins and stops, or stoops and straightens while flapping.  All the while the therapist sings simple phrases reflective of what the child is doing (example:  “go, go, go – stop”, or, “N is flapping, flapping – stop”, “N plays high, then plays low”).  The music and the words reflecting the child.  Sometimes a child like this gets it and looks right away. Sometimes it takes many, many repetitions.   Or maybe, instead of looking, the child flapping begins to reflect the music (instead of the reverse).  This is it, this is the beginning!  The child is linked to something, something with predictability, dependability, repitition and something temporal they can count on!  This is it, this is the beginning!

Is it because the child feels the vibration of the beat, the vibration of the tones that resonate with their own unique sounds?  Is it that they hear all this or maybe it’s not necessary to know why, just yet? Maybe all that is important is that you are both speaking in the same predictable, dependable language.  Beginnings and endings have been established, a temporal sense has been established. Someone speaks to me in my own unique way but somehow contains my voice and makes it gives it boundaries.  Self regulated learning has begun.  Self regulated behaviors establishing a route for the development of self.

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  1. Natalie Mullis, MT-BC October 3, 2011 at 4:55 pm

    Love this! I’m always looking for more creative ideas to work on self stimulating behaviors. I really like the start/stop idea since I already incorporate start/stop activities with other goals in mind. Such a great bridge!

  2. Antoinette October 11, 2011 at 12:29 pm

    Thank you Natalie! If you walk into the school where I work and say “ready, set…” the child that says “Go!” was probably in Music Therapy!

  3. 5XtPvKN August 12, 2013 at 11:24 pm

    386527 763433It is difficult to get knowledgeable folks on this subject, but the truth is be understood as what happens you are preaching about! Thanks 258690

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