Reply To: Sensory Processing/Autism

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I see that you posted your question a few weeks ago, and I hope you’re having more success with these students, or have found ways to accommodate them. I work at a school for students with special needs, and have encountered students like yours. Of course you shouldn’t be expected to change your entire curriculum, but there may be ways to accommodate their needs. Your occupational and physical therapists may have sound-reducing headphones that you could borrow; if not, Jason’s idea is a great one. Also, if there is time in your schedule, I would recommend you meeting with these students at a separate time, and slowly sensitize them to the sounds of music class. You could also try seating them far away from the sound source, and using a low volume. An auditory sensitivity does not mean children don’t like music – it means that auditory input is actually painful!
Do they all have auditory processing disorders, or is the anxiety due to a change in schedule, routine, etc? No two students on the autistic spectrum are alike; it would help if you knew exactly what issues each child is dealing with. You should be able to get information from their special ed teacher, case manager, physical/occupational therapists, as well as from the IEP’s. Don’t be afraid to contact the parents, and voice your concerns (gently) that their child is having difficulty being comfortable in music class, and ask if they have any suggestions or advice. They may even ask that their child not participate in music, if they know how unhappy their child is. Let me know how you’re doing!