Creating Music Lesson Plans for Three Autistic Students

by Cameron
(Richmond,VA )

Hello! I am currently licensed as a PK-6th grade teacher, and a board substitute for music at two elementary schools. I am naturally musical and creative, and I sing all the time :)

The school I go to once a week has a group of autistic children, whom I just adore, but I feel like I am not reaching them in the best way possible. I have had several experiences working with children that have all ranges of abilities and learning issues, and have had many teaching experiences. But loving music and teaching music are two different things:)

I am definitely learning to channel my passion into effective plans for each grade level that I teach. However, I need information, suggestions, even lesson plans and activities for my autistic group. We usually finish our activities pretty early on, as there are only three of them, and there are two teachers with them. I have them for 30 minutes. One child cannot communicate hardly at all, while the other two are high functioning.

Hello Cameron,

What you want is what we all want --lesson plans for teaching autistic-spectrum music students. I don't think there exists such a resource yet, but the door is wide open for those who would attempt it. Teaching an autistic child one-on-one is challenging enough, demanding great flexibility and creativity; it must be very hard to teach three at once.

One "resource" I'd like to direct your attention to is a DVD called Autism: The Musical. This movie is a documentary about the true experience of an acting coach who is the mother of an autistic son, and her successful attempt to bring together a large group of autistic children, of many ages and abilities, to produce an evening of music and drama. The story is heart-wrenching, but
encouraging also. Little videos about it show up on Youtube.

Back to the issue of lesson plans... I would try to write out some myself, but feel I haven't accumulated enough experience with special-needs kids.

Instead, I hope to foster a forum of sorts here on my site, and invite input from those who have tried-and-true ideas and methods to help the rest of us. Right now, I am working on finishing up a new page (a very long one) about the process of teaching piano to autistic kids. This page will be directed at answering the plea of Ana for ideas for her music foundation in Rumania. Hopefully, I will get it done in a week or two.

This page will have a general outline of what a piano teacher would hope to teach a student, and many specific ideas and techniques garnered from other teachers, through online forums.

Don't be discouraged -- you are a pioneer. Decide what you want to teach, over-plan (so you can switch gears when things don't "click"), and take careful notes afterward about what worked and what didn't. Keep researching through books and websites, and don't be embarrassed to try wild ideas. Keep your lesson plans, write your own musical materials for your kids, and think about producing and selling your own successful lesson plans eventually. (Selling an item like this as an E-book on your own website is a distinct possibility --the server I use to build my website, Site Build It (SBI), or Sitesell, makes it very easy to get it right.)

Please write back again and share how your group classes are going, and what seems to be successful. Check back here for updated information, too.

Thanks for writing, and good luck!


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Music Activities and Autistic Children
by: Pamela

Hi Cameron,

I am a Board Certified Music Therapist with over 20 years experience using music with autistic children. Many times autistic children will respond to music when they don't to other therapeutic and educational mediums. I admire you for searching for resources to make this a successful experience for your students! I'd like to recommend that you check out my blog entitled "Music for Special Kids" at:

On this site I list musical activities, songs, instuments and resources that may be helpful to you in developing your lesson plans. I list new activities and songs each week. Please feel free to contact me (contact info available on the "about" page) if you have any specific questions or situations that I might be able to provide infomation on.

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