Music program "therapy" for adults on Spectrum
Tink <tink.le <at> comcast.net>
2006-09-04 19:48:55 GMT
"Gold stars" aside, this is an interesting article on music "therapy" and
adults on Spectrum. Key point from article: "...the more options she gives
Bujarski, the less likely he is to hit himself in frustration...." I guess
it's called treating him like an adult! Maybe, eventually, they'll
understand that there is probably no need for the stickers.
Reaching autism patients through music
Thursday, August 31, 2006
KAY MILLER ~ Scripps Howard News Service
Teacher Jenifer Josephson rewarded Lauren Dodge, one of six autistic adults
in a music therapy class, with applause.
(Tom Wallace ~ Minneapolis St. Paul Star Tribune)
Kenny Bujarski, 43, has had a rough week emotionally and lies curled up on a
couch, covered head to toe with a heavy yellow blanket. LaShauna White, 27,
rocks frantically, lamenting, "We're not doing beads."
(*** I doubt she was lamenting ... lol )
Danny Genest, 41, keeps asking for his electric fan and reaching over to hug
the head of aide Gail Spartz.
They barely notice when MacPhail Center for Music's Jenifer Josephson enters
the room, toting large bags filled with drums, CDs, bean bags, colorful
scarves and an electric guitar. She's been coming to Opportunity Partners'
Karlins Center in Plymouth, Minn., since October to teach a weekly music
therapy class for adults with autism.
(**** Again, here's an example of lack of awareness on the part of the
writer. "They barely notice...." You better believe that "THEY" notice.)
Music therapy has long been used to treat autism. What is different here is
that MacPhail designed "Music to Our Ears" specifically for people ages 21
to 43 who have moderate to severe autism.
"Look what I brought, Kenny. You got all your stars and earned the electric
guitar!" Josephson says.
Bujarski moans but doesn't sit up. Josephson could prod. Instead, she tries
to see the world as he does -- as a chaotic, confusing, dangerous place.
When he feels overwhelmed, Bujarski hits himself on the head. He spends
about 80 percent of his time alone in a room, by choice.
"It's huge that he chose to come to music therapy today," said Susan Fries,
manager of Karlins, one of Minnesota's only employment-focused day training
and rehabilitation programs for adults with autism spectrum disorders.
Every day is different. Today Bujarski is difficult to reach. But he will be
the star of the class in two weeks, earning stars for cooperating, playing
instruments and singing along. After accumulating 20 stars, he gets to pick
a reward. His favorites are the electric guitar and drum set.
All of these autistic clients love music.
"We don't stop with one or two methods and say, 'Oh, this isn't working,'"
Fries said. "We continue until we find a way that works for that individual.
Every day we're looking for new connections."
Autism is a spectrum disorder that encompasses a range of severity, behavior
and cognitive abilities. But generally, people with autism are captive to
their own inner worlds, Fries said. When they want something, they want it
immediately. They find it hard to block out competing stimuli to focus on a
single voice, idea or activity. Some respond by rocking or hitting
themselves to express distress or refocus their thoughts.
Through music therapy these clients are learning to take turns, follow
directions, use words to get what they want, express emotion in socially
acceptable ways and interact with others.
That includes the daunting task of calling peers by name.
Josephson has learned that she can tease Loher and be firm with Dodge. But
the more options she gives Bujarski, the less likely he is to hit himself in
frustration. When she asks him to pass out drums to classmates, she reminds
him, "You can say, 'No, thank you.' "
A muffled "No, thank you" comes through the blanket. "Way to go, Kenny!"
Josephson says, quietly setting the drum where he can reach it. Bujarski
can't resist. Soon he is thumping rhythms in time with his classmates.
E-I-E-I-O doesn't feel like work "Music is processed in both the right and
left hemispheres of the brain," Josephson said. So it can bridge damaged or
impaired areas of the brain. Music is fun. It's empowering. Everyone can be
successful at singing, playing a drum, unfurling a parachute or simply
choosing a CD. So Josephson can work on the same goals that an occupational
or physical therapist might without it feeling like work to clients.
Halfway through class, Bujarski sits up and asks for Simon & Garfunkel's
"Hazy Shade of Winter." It is a turning point. Soon he's standing, insisting
that Josephson "put on a 45!" And when Josephson asks how he feels now,
Bujarski blurts an emphatic "FINE!" The black light goes on, the school of
fish on the wall glows and Lauren Dodge grins for all she's worth.
(Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service, www.scrippsnews.com.)