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International Journal of Education & the Arts
Editors Margaret Macintyre Latta University of Nebraska-Lincoln, U.S.A. Christine Marmé Thompson Pennsylvania State University, U.S.A.
Volume 11 Number 9

ISSN 1529-8094
August 17, 2010

SoundScape: An Interdisciplinary Music Intervention for Adolescents and Young Adults on the Autism Spectrum Gena R. Greher AshleighHillier Margaret Dougherty Nataliya Poto University of Massachusetts Lowell, U.S.A.
Citation: Greher, G.R., Hillier, A., Dougherty, M., Poto, N. (2010). SoundScape: An interdisciplinary music intervention for adolescents and young adults on the autism spectrum. International Journal of Education & the Arts, 11(9). Retrieved [date] from Abstract Service provision foradolescents and young adults with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) is lacking, particularly post high school. We report on a music intervention program, outline our program model, and report some initial pilot data evaluating the program outcomes. We also discuss implications for undergraduate and graduate students who were involved in the project. Overall, outcomes were positive and highlighted the needfor such interventions among the ASD community. We hope our observations focused on the strengths and weaknesses of the program will be helpful to others who may be considering implementing a similar intervention.

IJEA Vol. 11 No. 9 -


Introduction Autism spectrum disorders (ASD), including autism, Asperger’s syndrome, and pervasive developmental disorder -not otherwise specified, are characterized by a triad of impairments in socialization, imagination, and communication (Wing, 1981). Those with ASD may also experience depression, anxiety, high levels of stress, and low self-esteem. Challenges with social skills are a core feature and individuals on the autism spectrum often have few friends and many have been teased or rejected by peers (Dubin,2007; Ozonoff & Miller, 1995). Such challenges can impact the individual through adulthood and interfere with vocational success (Chadsey-Rusch, 1992). In 2003, there were 4007 reported cases of autism among individuals aged 6-22 years in our state, an increase of 634% since 1995 (Hollenbeck, 2004). In our University’s city, and reflected across the nation, beyond the formal structure of public schooland state funded programs, there are minimal opportunities and resources for recreation, self-development and positive peer interactions for individuals with autism spectrum disorders. We would be remiss not to mention that many foundations run programs for children with developmental issues. Among the many nationally recognized programs, camps, and workshops, are two programs based inCalifornia, designed to give autistic students hands-on film-making, musical, and/or theatrical experiences working side by side with professionals.1 One of the programs run by Inclusion Films, provide short filmmaking workshops, which are offered in the summer on several university campuses across the country. For many parents in our community this may not be an option, therefore we were looking to createa service that could be sustained with the help of university students in more of a service learning situation during the school year, with minimal cost to the participants. This paper describes a community outreach music program called SoundScape. SoundScape was created as an interdisciplinary university based music class for high-functioning adolescents and young adults on the autism spectrum(ASD). This was a collaboration of two professors in the departments of psychology and music at a state university in the northeast. While our primary focus is to provide a much needed sustainable service to individuals on the autism spectrum in our community, our secondary focus is aimed at helping our students in the music education and psychology programs, both graduate and undergraduate, gain...
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