In 2014, The Center for Disease Control published a report showing that 1 out of every 68 children have ASD, or Autism Spectrum Disorder. Some more recent studies have actually concluded that the number is closer to 1 out of every 45 children are on the spectrum somewhere. ASD is found in 4 1/2 times more boys than girls, and permeates every culture, ethnicity and social status.
Raising a child with ASD comes with very unique and specialized challenges.
In general, children with ASD face issues with making emotional connections with others, verbal and other communication skills, processing information, and being able to manifest their thoughts into action. While there are common elements for every child that is somewhere on the spectrum, the degree of the challenges and how they manifest are unique to each child.
Depending on where your child is on the spectrum, piano lessons and music in general might just be the tool to create a new way of connecting to the world, for your child.
First of all, no...piano lessons aren't right for every ASD child. This is something to discuss with family and the professionals involved in your child's care before you make the decision to find the right piano teacher.
But for many, they are an incredible gift.
ASD kids respond well for the most part to structure, routine, and habits. Piano lessons and practice time provide this daily structure and routine; and allow the child a positive environment to engage with.
Playing the piano and creating sound that is nonverbal can be quite attractive to ASD children. Verbal communication can be quite challenging for those on the spectrum. Music allows them to communicate without using words, and opens a whole new door for them, as well as you the parents. Some children are able to learn to use the piano to express their emotions of anger and joy, because they don't have to use words to do it.
Once children find a new way of connecting and even communicating through music, they also are more open to doing this with others. More and more, children with ASD are found in school bands, orchestras and choruses as they find a way to connect with others through the common bond of music.
The increased neural connections that occur in all children who learn to play the piano or another musical instrument benefit those with ASD as well. Learning the piano can help ASD kids connect in different ways to numbers, patterns, and even high-level problem solving, so that they can perform these functions better, or even for the first time in some cases.
There are great benefits on the soul level as well, because so many ASD kids gain a new sense of confidence, excitement, joy, and overall greater happiness from being able to create something on their own, and connect with their world in a whole new way. For you the parents; the joy is unspeakable.
Now this isn't to say that there won't be some challenges along the way! With any child, there are things to work on and overcome when learning the piano, but the rewards are well worth the effort, especially if this is what brings you and your child together in a whole new way.
If you are ready to start discussing piano lessons as a possibility for your ASD child, begin talking to other parents to see who they might recommend as a teacher. Look up some resources on the internet to find local groups for ASD too, as this will connect you with other great resources as well. You might want to see if you and your child could go and observe a lesson with someone you know, to see more of how things work and how your own child even reacts to the sound of the piano and the personality of the teacher.
Have you thought about learning yourself? :) This is a great way to get any child involved more in music and learning the piano.
Remember to approach this in regards to how well you think your sweet, unique individual child will benefit from, respond to, and grow from studying the piano. If it's not for your child, then something else will be. Music is about joy, fun, learning, creating, connecting and communicating, and that should be not only the focus, but the result as well.
Stay Tuned to LessonsOnTheWeb to learn much more and achieve your dream of playing the piano!
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