Autism & Music Therapy: A Case Study

When James, age 4 and his parents were new to music therapy, they trusted our team to change their lives with scientifically validated music therapy techniques.

Perfect Pitch From An Early Age

James was diagnosed with Autism at age three, and upon relocating to Colorado when he was almost four years old, his parents Molly and Weston found our office while researching options online. While they didn’t know much about how music therapy worked, they did know that James was very drawn to music from a very early age—his perfect pitch, ability to clap on rhythm, and habit of beatboxing all told them that music therapy was worth exploring.

James’ Goals

Molly and Weston wanted to support James in advancing and growing in a general sense, but after an initial consultation they also identified the priorities of building James’ flexibility, social skills, and ability to regulate his emotions. Other therapies they had experienced felt too one-size-fits all, so they needed a resource that was truly personalized, and leveraged what James was uniquely capable of in addressing his needs.

Consistency & Customization

We’ve worked with James and his parents for three years, employing a blend individual therapy, adaptive piano lessons, and social groups over that time.

At its core, our approach was simple: We actively listened and allowed time for discussion. Molly and Weston would fill his us in on what James’ needs were from week to week, and we incorporated that feedback into his sessions in real time.

“The first time we went, we were in tears.” says Molly. “We had not understood that it was actual therapy that incorporated everything that we needed.”

Beyond customization, another key part of James’ treatment has been the way his parents carried things over to the home environment; we work with them to ensure we’re all using the same language and focusing on the same things to help James progress as quickly as possible. We’ve also guided them in transitioning from paying for James’ therapies privately to having Medicaid to pay for therapies and social groups, saving them thousands of dollars each year.

Growing & Advancing (While Having Fun)

Since finding our team, James has come a long way in being flexible, understanding various circumstances, and regulating his emotions. At school, this means he's able to use his words or ask for help when he gets frustrated or overwhelmed, and he can also choose between a few options instead of being stuck on one thing.  At home, he's more confident in his abilities to communicate exactly what he wants/needs and comfortable adjusting when met with the unexpected, such as going to bed at a later time than usual or changing plans at the last minute.

“Music therapy is the #1 most impactful therapy for James! Had we gone another route, he would probably would still be advancing but probably at a much slower rate.” — Molly, James’ Mom