(Accordino et al, 103) The Accordino et al article goes on to
detail the findings which suggest this to be an accurate array of valuable
activities for those who as a result of the autism condition are extremely
limited elsewhere in terms of the ability to express or acquire emotional
or informational communication.
The idea is further elaborated by the numerous studies which have
emerged with specific reference to the relationship between early education
in autism sufferers and the application of music therapy. Namely, the
study by Kern & Aldridge (2006), first elaborates on the recognized value
of inclusion environments as a context for education for autistic children.
Noting the socialization and normalcy which can be of great value to the
child, Kern & Aldridge go on to recommend that music therapy be used as a
means of intervention in providing support for the autistic child, who will
inherently have greater difficulty integrating information and knowledge
acquired in class than will other students. The study details the evidence
suggesting music therapy as an activity which is often illustrated to
provoke enjoyment in the autistic child while simultaneously improving
aptitude in areas with an illustrated history of deficiency in the child.
(Kern & Aldridge, 273)
In general, the viability in such an approach in terms of managing
the educational needs of the autistic child can be quite revealing. The
study by Kern et al (2007) tells a case history in which the subject's
inclusive classroom education is often assisted by his advocate's use of
song. The article relates the consistent behavioral tendency on the part
of the subject to achieve greater focus, connectivity and understanding of
class-room activities when the advocate sings instructions and related
information. When the teacher is not singing, the subject is reported to
resume his typical propensity toward inappropriate and socially
dysfunctional behaviors. (Kern et al, 45) This serves as an anecdotal
reinforcement of the experiences which are reported in laboratory and
scientific examinations concerning the distinct behavioral responses that
are affiliated with the appeal to music.
Yet another study by Kern et al (2007) would reach some compelling
findings that even demonstrate the capacity of music to promote automatic
and self-initiated connections and behaviors. The idea of compositional
specificity was shown to have a direct relationship to self-reflection and
social awareness in the study in question, which provided two autistic test
subjects with individualized songs that detailed the steps for greeting
others in the morning at school. In these instances, the outcome was that
both autistic children began exhibiting the self-driven and unprompted
ability to greet the teacher, noting a recognition of a personal
relationship and a social formality relating to this relationship. (Kern
et al, 1264) In addition, one of the two subjects would actually
demonstrate a higher level of socialization when given the 'greeting song,'
with other mainstream students responding more actively to such greetings.
(Kern et al, 1264) The result here is a truly compelling illustration of
the unique capacity of music to reach emotional cues otherwise obscured in
the autism sufferer.
This is true in something of a universal sense, meaning there is
proven value to this approach not just in school or in the academic setting
but areas of the child's life. Particularly, this is so where the
relationship established between parent, child and other family members are
concerned. Allgood (2005) discusses the distinct value of incorporating
music therapy into family-based treatment processes. This is an especially
compelling aspect of the discussion as it concerns the emotionally taxing
responsibilities and challenges to parents of an autistic child. The
difficulty of connecting personally with an autistic child, especially
those suffering from more severe degrees of the spectrum, is in some regard
addressed in the Allgood study, which denotes that the use of music as an
intermediary between the autistic child and family members can help to
create connections and communication that have otherwise been impossible to
access. (Allgood, 93) This is a promising avenue that proceeds from what
Allgood notes is the ageless value of music, that can be appealing and
emotive to both children and adults. This can become a sturdy middle
ground for parents and their autistic child. The presence of any such
connective middle ground can serve to be an emotional life raft to parents
enduring the struggle of raising an autistic child who is severely disabled
in the emotional, communicational and cognitive capacities.
The shared resolution of the vast majority of research consulted in
this subject area is that there is already empirical cause to believe there
is real value in the use of music therapy where autism sufferers are
concerned. As the study by Kaplan & Steele (2005) denotes, autism is a
condition whose presence has been fast increasing in our communities and
schools. (Kaplan & Steele, 4) Though there is no collectively shared
resolution on why this is so, there is some growing consensus that
approaches such as music have a unique and relieving impact on such
deficiencies as those which detain individuals from the retention of
information, emotional cues and even social responsibilities.
This aspect of the discussion reveals that there is not just an
interest in exploring the further implications of musical therapy and music-
based education but that in some regards, there is an imperative to draw
some applicable conclusions regarding the distinct need for musical
education as a way to approach all students, marginalized or mainstream.
In the respect that such methods suggest opportunities for enrichment
traditionally overlooked in the struggle to help marginalized students
focus on the most basic of educational goals, a change in philosophy is
needed. The perceived specialization of music in the academic context
prevents many from experiencing the channels of intellectual growth thereby
suggested. The discussion on autism here dispels much of the view
underscoring this approach to the subject. And it also returns us to the
discussion of the technologies increasingly made accessible by companies
such as Apple. The company has offered research tying its technological
innovations to the concerns facing marginalized students such as the
communication gaps widely addressed in the autism discussion and also
implicated by the multicultural nature of the United States.
According to a White Paper sponsored by Apple (2006) "iPod, used with
the iTunes and iLife software, can serve as a powerful tool for teaching
and acquiring languages. With its unique features of portability, ease of
use, and file storage capacity combined with its ability to deliver audio
as well as text, images, and video, the iPod holds the promise of
revolutionizing the way languages are acquired both in and out of school."
(McQuillan, 1) This returns the discussion to an assessment of the
intervention and evaluation proposed as a qualitative study in this
research endeavor. Here, it is clear that the technology is readily
available and the scholastic research accessible for consultation to
justify and facilitate a music-based approach to mainstream and inclusion
education. The benefits to general population students and those
marginalized by impairments, cognitive differences or language barriers
collectively suggest that it is the responsibility of educators and
administrators to incorporate music therapies and strategies into regular
academic curricula. This is especially true for early learners and those
in such formative emotional stages as adolescence.
In addition to the insights provided here in prelude to the
observation-based qualitative study of educators in a middle-school
context, the literature review here is only a preliminary oversight of such
subjects as the available software technology required for the suggested
innovations; the grounding for such innovation in academic theory endorsing
the value of musical therapy; and the implications of such innovation to
marginalized students such as autisms sufferers. Further literature review
of the intercession of musical theory and educational theory might be
beneficial to the research process.
Accordino, R.; Comer, R. & Heller, W.B. (2006). Searching for music's
potential: A critical examination of research on music therapy with
individuals with autism. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 1. 101-
Adams, R. (2002). Online Music Theory Helper. Children's Music Workshop.
Online at .
Allgood, N. (2005). Parents perceptions of family-based group music
therapy for children with autism spectrum disorders. Music Therapy
Perspectives, 23(2), 92.
Apple Computers. (2010). Education: iLife/iWork. Apple.com.
Apple Learning Interchange. (2006). Musical Patterns. Apple.com. Online
Cesarone, B. (2000). Computers in Elementary and Early Childhood
Education. Childhood Education. Online at .
Children's Music Workshop. (CMW). Music Education Online. Children's
Music Workshop. Online at .
Hess, K.L.; Morrier, M.J.; Heflin, L.J.; Ivey, M.L. (2007). Autism
treatment survey: services received by children with autism spectrum
disorders in public school classrooms. Journal of Autism and Development
Disorder, 38, 961-971.
Ho, W. (2002). Democracy, Citizenship and Extra-musical Learning in Two