The theory of AIM in disability music programs (Music Interaction)

This Way In To Music’s AIM Theory as explained by Alex Smith

Attention, Invitational Inspiration, and Mimesis through Music

The TWIM program demonstrates by how parents can invite ATTENTION (participation) via encouraging INTEREST IN SOCIALISATION VIA MUSIC GAMES, INSPIRE connection (I) and use the power of MUSIC and MIMESIS (M-squared) to reduce isolation and build cross-transferable skills.

  • Parents can implement and improvise, using these examples as a basis, using home made instruments or inexpensive store bought versions of instruments – but pots and pans work equally well.
  • We’re essentially talking about using small, inexpensive drums or bongos, pots and pans and wooden spoons for percussion, tambourines, hand shakers, ukuleles and/or guitars – basically anything that can be used to generate a sound and attract attention.
  • But it’s performed in an entirely invitational manner that encourages gentle, comfortable social interaction and engagement between family members or classroom participants – not demanded attention and not forced attention, but using the power of curiosity, mimesis and sound to connect and communicate in a playful, task-less yet skills-building capacity.

The tools and tips This Way In To Music provides include special strategies to meet FIVE key Music Interaction and Music Socialisation objectives:

  1. AROUSAL OF INTEREST – Increasing a child’s willingness to engage and connectsocially, with others by participating in music-themed games(reducing social-withdrawal or self-isolation tendencies).
  2. ATTENTION – Sustaining attention in an interaction between family members including siblings (at home, it’s primary purpose) AND with teachers and other classroom participants/peers.
  3. MEMESIS – Developing natural tendencies to imitate (mimic) as well as to lead via imitation games that evoke sounds or sound-related games made with voices, names, objects or musical instruments.
  4. COMFORT – Building comfort in a controlled setting to enhance connection and communication (verbal or non-verbal); with a potential for cognitive transfer.
  5. COMMUNICATION and CONNECTION – Generating mimesis and recognising and encouraging self-regulatory behaviours; to increase a child’s comfort with changes and help minimise situations of overwhelm which lead to ‘meltdowns’.

Who developed the session strategies underpinning the This Way In To Music program for children with Autism, Asperger’s, Cerebral Palsy or Acquired Brain Injury (ABI)?

  • The program was developed and honed by musician and lead singer of Moving Pictures, Alex Smith.
  • Alex is a parent of a child with Asperger’s (now a young adult) and he was frustrated with his early dealings with the educational system for children with special needs.
  • Inspired by what he saw as a gap in educational strategies for children with neuro-developmental differences, he then spent over 20 years working in Special Needs Education and Music Interaction in the UK (along with small training sessions in Australia while on Tour).
  • Together with Healthcare Researcher and Director/Producer Connie May MHST, Education Advisor Ric Davidson, and Co-Producer/Director Ron Brown, the program is being brought to families across the world through digital means, beginning in late 2018.

History of Singer Alex Smith’s program for special needs music interaction:

  • As the lead singer of the Australian band, Moving Pictures, Alex Smith is best known for the hit songs “What About Me” and “Never” (heard on the Footloose soundtrack).
  • Most recently, Alex toured with other famous musicians in the Red Hot Summer Tour in Australia. He is also releasing a new album in October 2018, but his primary focus is on his This Way In To Music program.
  • Alex Smith became involved in Special Needs Education and Music Interaction as a Trainer/Educator and Parent of a child on the Autistic Spectrum. He spent decades doing reading and research on Autism Spectrum and Asperger’s conditions.
  • He had the goal of empowering his son as well as the teachers, families and kids he helped in the Special Needs Education system in the UK.
  • In creating his music program, Alex drew on numerous resources and extensive experience (including experimentation, trial and error) to compile a proprietary system of working with children with Special Needs, using MUSIC as an engagement and social-learning tool.

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