Teaching Autistic Students

Below is a summary of the discussion we held on teaching autistic students, which took place on 23rd January 2019.

Reading music – what sort of obstacles do your students experience here and what techniques do you use to support them.

  • A preference for playing by ear (avoiding note-reading) may lead to under-development of notation reading.
  • Focus on learning by ear – for a time or permanently – depending on the student’s aims.
  • I teach my two advanced autistic students entirely by ear. They have incredible memories! One is determined to learn to sightread so we work on this for part of each lesson but it’s v slow.

Sensory issues – people with autism may experience sensory overload, or, the reverse, find sensory stimulation more soothing or engaging. How do you support students who experience one or the other (or both) of these?

Physical barriers – aside from the sensory issues, are there any physical issues your students experience, and what can you do to help them?

  • Some people with autism are reluctant to/avoid sitting – can your students stand to play? How can you change their learning environment to allow this?

Further reading:

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