Autism and family-centred approaches in and through music

Thompson, G. and Lisboa, T. and Ockelford, A. (2020) Autism and family-centred approaches in and through music. In: The Oxford Handbook of Early Childhood Music Learning and Development. Oxford University Press, Oxford. (In Press)


Music practitioners with various qualifications, including music therapists and music educators, acknowledge that musical experiences offer a form of expression, interaction and understanding that do not rely on words. Musical interactions and engagement may therefore offer a valuable context that can support diverse forms of communication and connection in early childhood that are advantageous for child development. The potential benefits of music participation for children on the autism spectrum are illustrated through descriptions of two distinct approaches: the Sounds of Intent framework, which aims to promote music engagement and musical development over time; and Family Centred Music Therapy, which aims to foster the child’s development and strengthen the parent-child relationship. The dual perspectives presented in this chapter highlight possible benefits both in music and also through music for other areas of development, such as social communication, language and cognition.

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