Music Therapy: A Pedagogical Alternative for ASD and ID Students in Regular Classrooms

Music Therapy: A Pedagogical Alternative for ASD and ID Students in Regular Classrooms

María Luisa Montánchez Torres (University of Valencia, Spain) and Verónica Juárez Ramos (University of Granada, Spain)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-3111-1.ch008
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The use of music as a therapeutic discipline has become well established in schools over the course of many years. Music therapy has very positive, therapeutic results on children with any type of special educational need but in particular students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and intellectual disabilities (IDs). This chapter looks at inclusive education and research-based instructional strategies within the realm of music as a pedagogical alternative when working with students with ASD and IDs in the general education classroom. The chapter presents two case studies—one involving a student with ASD and another involving a student with an ID. Solutions and recommendations on further implementation and research of music therapy in inclusive classroom settings are provided.
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Music has existed throughout history, since the dawn of mankind itself, and has been popular in all eras and across all generations and ethnic groups. It is a prominent form of expression, capable of capturing and exhibiting all emotions. Music has created infinite forms of human relationships, which are key to music therapy. People pick up harmonic sounds, often unconsciously, and retain them in their minds. Music evokes short passages, mood states, or feelings. This nonverbal form of communication is a dominant part of daily life found in all known cultures (Benenzon, 2011).

According to Benenzon (1981, 2000), nonverbal communication allows us to express emotions and feelings that need to be communicated to accomplish a state of well-being and good health. Thus, music is a valid therapeutic means and one of the best ways to enable educational, reactive, emotional, and mental improvement of a student.

Currently, music therapy is applied in education, hospitals, private therapy, and occupational fields. Music therapy can enhance the new, inclusive educational methodology because its scientific method improves the quality of life and develops skills in people with ASD and IDs, among others (Benenzon, 2011; Betés del Toro, 2000; Gaston, 1968).

Under the Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA, 2004), autism spectrum disorder is defined as:

a developmental disability significantly affecting verbal and nonverbal communication and social interaction, generally evident before age 3, that adversely affects a child’s educational performance. Other characteristics often associated with autism are engagement in repetitive activities and stereotyped movements, resistance to environmental change or change in daily routines, and unusual responses to sensory experiences. (34 CFR §300.8[c][1][i-iii])

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