This Way In to Music | A One Generation Changes Music Project
What are the concepts in This Way In To Music?
This Way In To Music is a music interaction program designed for use by parents, siblings, teachers, and/or others who care for children and young adults with autism, acquired brain injuries, and other special needs.
It is a pilot program based on 20 years of research and experience facilitating special needs music interaction activities for children with diverse neurological conditions. These inluded Autism, Aspergers, Cerebral Palsy, MND, MS, Acquired Brain Injuries and other conditions that impact cognition, coordination, social interaction comfort (or shyness), and for some individuals, also impacting confidence in social settings.
The outcomes of some of these condition is typically shyness, social anxiety or a preference for isolation, primarily due to a lack of comfort with traditional social settings and activities. But here’s where the magic of music interaction takes place — drawing out the person’s own leadership and social engagement capacities, and giving the child and the child’s parents, siblings, teachers and carers a rewarding and fun social experience.
All using the power of music and our innate preference for connecting with rhythm and sound, and with other people, despite shyness, anxiety, or communication differences.
What is the significance of using music to increase social engagement, and social confidence, in children who are shy (or socially challenged) by neurological uniqueness?
Music interaction programs can help individuals with various differences in cognition, verbal communication skills, socialisation, physical abilities and other ability differences, to engage with peers, siblings, parents and teachers or other carers.
Using ‘taskless’ music-themed activities can reduce isolation and encourage individual leadership skills and social interaction.
Originally designed by Alex for children with Autism, Aspergers or Cerebral Palsy, music interaction exercies is fully adaptable to a multitude of neuro-diverse conditions.
These conditions include, but not limited to:
- Acquired Brain Injury (ABI)
- Autism Spectrum conditions (ASD)
- Cerebral Palsy
- Down’s Syndrome
- Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
- Motor Neuron Disease (MND)
- Shyness or social anxiety
- Spinal injuries
While there is no guarantee every person or family living with an ability difference (or social shyness/social avoidance) can be helped through music interaction, our experience has shown positive impacts in social engagement, non-verbal and verbal communication, sibling bonding, and family respite times.
The creator of This Way In To Music (musician and former music session facilitator for special needs classrooms, singer Alex Smith) has first-hand experience as a parent of a child with neurodiversity. For over 20 years he used music interaction activities to assist families raising children with neurological diversity (‘NDD”), using insights from music interaction learning and years of personal research as a parent of two children, one with special needs.
What do music interaction activities assist with?
It will vary from family to family and with how the activities are implemented; being on the floor (sitting on the floor) surrounding by anything that could serve as a musical instrument is how it starts (you do NOT need real instruments – a wooden stick and an upside down bucket or pot will serve well).
If you do want instruments, choose them carefully for texture and sound.
Engaging with others using music-themed activities may result in the following; and these music-themed interaction activities have the capacity to (for many, but not all, individuals with neuro-diversity):
- Generate potentially transferable social engagement and communication skills
- Encourage children living with a disability to take the lead in a creative social setting
- Enable connection, fun, and sound-themed engagement
- Assist families find increased ways to find relaxation and ‘time out’ from otherwise typically stressful family environments
- Provide coping resources and tools for parents, teachers and carers
By providing ideas for enjoyable social engagement activities — using the power of music and the intrigue of sound, innate in every human even though we have obvious preferences for certain sounds and unique aversions to other sounds — to help benefit the child, their entire family and/or caring circles including schools, teachers and therapists.
Music Interaction Skills for Special Needs Families
We know firsthand that raising children on the spectrum, or with other types of neuro-diversity, has its challenges.
- Some of these challenges include:
- multiple specialist appointments
- family scheduling conflicts due to differences in ‘immediate’ parenting support needs versus ‘traditional’ parenting support needs for other siblings, which can lead to conflicts and resentment
- other challenges parents know ALL to well
With an easy-to-use music interaction program, families can build in times of relaxation, socialisation, connection and playful relaxation.
How do I find out more?
Note – this program is not running due to the pandemic travel restrictions and other reasons.
But if this sounds like something you’d like to support with financial funding, as a pilot video program for special needs families, please contact us using the form on the contact page.
“Where words fail…music speaks”.
The team originally concepting This Way In to Music include singer Alex Smith, Writer/Director Connie May MHST, Education Advisor Ric Davidson, and Director/Producer/Sound Engineer, Ron Brown.
Who is Alex Smith?
Alex Smith is the lead singer of the Australian band, Moving Pictures, of the famous song “What About Me.”
Recent releases by musician Alex Smith.
Alex Smith’s solo album, The Thread, is a beautiful bluesy-folk CD that was released in 2019, and received rave reviews.
What influences were there for the music interaction activities?
- The activities were guides by years of personal and professional research and experience in special needs education
- They were informed by philosophies of numerous other global Autism experts and Aspergers experts (for example, Tony Atwood, the renowned Queensland Australia based Asperger’s expert and author of numerous Asperger’s books including the Complete Guide to Aspergers Syndrome).
- They involved using the music-interaction engagement activities with families raising children with different severity levels of Autism/Asperger’s diagnosis and other atypical-neurological conditions
- Adaptable guidelines and in-home play sessions were aimed to be implemented nearly anywhere, by any family, for any child living with a disability
Care to sponsor a session or the program?
While the program is not currently operating, if you are a philanthropist with an interest in MUSIC and how it can help individuals and families living with autism, aspergers, cerebral palsy, aquired brain injury (ABI), MND and other neurological differences (or physical disorders or cognitive processing differences), please get in touch with Connie May MHST using the form below. Telephone is best (leave a message). Country code for Australia is +61 then its 4184.108.40.206.
This Way In To Music uses sound and music — along with everyday items for ‘taskless play’ to encourage social connection
Click to watch our INTRO video about our program.
How can I get my child to participate in music interaction sessions, given my child withdraws from most forms of social interaction?
- That’s the MAGIC of this program — the inherent attraction to sound, rhythm and music
- The interest in sound and rhythm is UNIVERSAL and cross-cultural
- Although individuals with neurodiversity can be particularly sensitive to sounds, this type of program is self-led — the child has control, while being introduced to new experiences (such as playing with the sounds a guitar makes, or a drum, or a rhythm shaker) and learning social interation confidence through fun music-themed activities (which are ‘taskless’).
Our interest in sound and music, as humans, is INNATE.
Every culture has songs and even nursery rhythms; and the ability to MIMIC others and play games (have fun) is also universal.
The key is that the child needs to feel comfortable in order to participate, and that’s what we teach parents, teachers and siblings to provide – COMFORT and CONNECTION.
A chance to be themselves, while having fun, and even taking the lead in social engagement in a positive, rewarding way. This can sometimes lead to cognitive transfer of a child becoming more comfortable in new situations, reducing meltdowns and encouraging more social engagement (reducing isolation).
Tips for using music interaction with children with special needs.
- Provide a COMFORTABLE, CALM yet CONNECTING environment that encourages participation by children with special needs or neurodiversity, such as being on the spectrum of Autism
- Participation is NEVER forced — it’s invited
- Participation, attention, connection and comfort in social settings using music interaction can lead to potentially TRANSFERABLE social skills or cognitive processing enhancements (the brain is NOT static — remember that!)
- Some children also demonstrate virtuoso music abilities – a surprise to parents but a sudden awakening of another skill they didn’t even know their children had
Music Interaction for families living neuro-diversity including Autism or ASD Spectrum conditions, ABIs, CP, MS, MND and Downs Syndrome.
The program we want to design includes interviews and TIPS from other parents raising children on the spectrum of Autism/Asperger’s or with Downs Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, MND, Multiple Sclerosis, Acquired Brain Injury, Stroke and more.
Transforming Families Living with Communication Differences through the Power of Music and Sound.
The program aims to encourage positive social interactions and creative self-expression for children who are otherwise isolated or restricted in engagements with others, using MUSIC as the conduit to connect and calm.
Thank you for visiting THIS WAY IN TO MUSIC’s program pages, from parent & musician, Alex Smith.
Music Interaction program aims to help parents, children, siblings, teachers, and carers who live or work with children with neuro-diverse conditions such as Autism, Cerebral Palsy (CP), Downs Syndrome, Motor Neuron Disease (MND) and Multiple Sclerosis (MS).
“I know, as I am the parent of a child on the Spectrum (Autism Spectrum).
My wife, Sophie, and I found it frustrating to get our child the attention we felt he needed as he journeyed through his early education years. I ended up going into special needs education (special education) as a Music Interaction Program trainer.
I served for over 20 years in the UK special needs education and music interaction training systems, helping teachers, parents and carers learn these powerful methods. I saw a lot of cognitive transfer of skills and comfort levels in new situations, and I felt called to offer this program and my insights to other parents who want to use the POWER of MUSIC to help their children progress as far as possible in life.”
Founder, Alex Smith
Presenter and Program Founder of This Way In To Music (By Alex Smith)
Producer/Director & Health/Wellness Researcher/Writer, Connie May MHST
Producer/Director, Writer and Health Researcher/Community Engagement Coordinator for This Way In To Music (By Alex Smith)
Special Needs Education Program Advisor/Post-Production, Ric Davidson
Special Needs Education Advisor and Post-Production Advisor for This Way In To Music (By Alex Smith)
With post-production and digital delivery support from Director and Producer, Ron Brown.