Accept Difference, Not Indifference - Music Therapy, Autism and SEN -

in education •  9 months ago

Hi all...
Firstly - I haven't sussed out the whole #github thing yet, and how to edit headings, bold text and hyperlinks etc etc so please bare with me....
This took me ages to put together so please indulge yourselves for just a few minutes?


I'd like to share some info regarding my day job and my recent diagnosis of 'ADULT ADHD' which came as no great surprise to my love ones!!!
After chatting with @krystle earlier today about music and her radio show, I noticed that on her profile it said 'Autism Mum & Advocate'

This really hit home with me and got me thinking about all of the great young people and adults I've supported these past 10 years, and how much joy it brings me to see them progress with condition.
Below are extracts from an essay I created for part of my training outlining what I did to help my students achieve in our music lessons.
I hope you find some of the following insightful and indeed, helpful.


As well as being a #musician and #songwriter, I found a passion for teaching nearly a decade ago after being invited to deliver drumming workshops at a school for special educational needs children here in England.

I won an award as voted for by the students!


I decided to retrain, and try to enrich the lives of the young people, share some of my passion/knowledge for music with others and research Autism and other learning difficulties, that can be a barrier to learning and enjoying school life.

What is #Autism?

Autism is a lifelong developmental #disability that affects how people perceive the world and interact with others.

Autistic people see, hear and feel the world differently to other people. If you are autistic, you are autistic for life; autism is not an illness or disease and cannot be 'cured'. Often people feel being autistic is a fundamental aspect of their identity.
Here's a video from The National Autistic Society which explains it beautifully.

Autism is a spectrum condition. All autistic people share certain difficulties, but being autistic will affect them in different ways. Some autistic people also have learning disabilities, mental health issues or other conditions, meaning people need different levels of support. All people on the autism spectrum learn and develop. With the right sort of support, all can be helped to live a more fulfilling life of their own choosing.

cited -

“It is the supreme art of the teacher
To awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge”

Albert Einstein


Here's some strategies I use on a daily basis...they're by no means 'Rocket Science' I'd just like to share them with you.


As a music specialist and tutor at a special educational needs school, my role is to teach the students rhythm and drumming techniques that will enable them to get the best use out of their instruments. I am responsible for their development as far as getting them ready to perform in a live performance at the end of the school term, for instance, the Christmas production or a special event in the school calendar.

In order to do this, I must build a strong professional relationship between myself and the students which enable them to feel confident and safe, overcoming the boundaries often faced by teachers in my field is also an important skill to learn as the behavioural, emotional and physical demands can become a real issue if they are not addressed early.


These can be divided into 4 different categories

Teacher as a person:

 Confident in communication

 Flexible and patient

 Empathetic and engaging

 Approachable and humorous!


Teacher teaching:

 Passionate about the subject

 Allow for equal opportunities

 Fun and engaging lessons for all

 Student centered activities


 Aware of student well being

 Realistic target setting

 Give written and verbal feedback where necessary



There are different procedures for identifying learning needs. Many times, in trying to identify the needs of students, a Teacher can find their selves going back to student records which contain personal details and learning needs with information on their preferred learning styles. Students’ gender, age, moral, social, cultural and spiritual backgrounds do vary, so are their reasons for the course. This is why as a teacher in my subject area I look at students’ motivation and behaviour closely in order to identify their needs

Autism Uncut Film and Media Awards
Autistic people are often misrepresented, stereotyped, or simply cut out altogether by the media. So we launched Autism Uncut on 6 April 2017, an awards ceremony to celebrate the best of TV, film and media that gives the public a greater picture of autism, the person and what to do.

read more here;


From what I have learnt from my subject area and the school where I teach, planning and designing what is to be taught needs careful planning. Designing lesson objectives, creating different teaching methods and using media based tools really help the students with the overall learning experience which is in line with the organisation and evaluative procedures.

How sensory overload might feel for an autistic person
Watch a short film which shows you what it could feel like to experience sensory overload.

Coutesy of

The stage of delivery for me as a special needs music teacher is vital. This is where, after all the planning and design is done, I have to deliver the content of the lesson to students successfully, as any failure here means the whole process is in jeopardy, which can ultimately cause behaviour issues.

Assessing students in my subject has to do with how well students have learnt a particular bespoke set of skills. My satisfaction therefore would be if my students have learnt what I intended them to learn during my teaching session. I assess this by asking them questions on the topic taught, giving out fun quizzes and encouraging them to make contributions in a group discussion. In doing this, one has to make sure that there are boundaries. Testing should be fair for all students, it should reflect capabilities as regards differentiation (if possible, a dyslexic student whose writing in scruffy and hard to understand should be given a laptop to use word to process his thoughts), testing should not be used to discriminate between and among students. Assessment should also be valid to the subject.

“Competence is possessing skill and knowledge that allows us to do something successfully. It also describes the ability to apply prior experience to new situations with good effect. Our competency usually increases over time as we acquire more information and ability through inquiry, observation, and participation”. Author: Anon


  1. Albert Einstein quotes. 2012. Albert Einstein quotes. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 22 June 2012].
  1. Competence Quotes | Wisdom Commons. 2012. Competence Quotes | Wisdom Commons. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 22 June 2012]

Kindest as always

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Excellent post and congrats on all the great work you have done in helping others! My Son loves music -- especially keyboard type instruments---like pianos, etc. He has some keyboard oriented toys along these lines. Best wishes! :)