Teaching Autistic Adults

by Jayne C

Hi there,

Thanks for your story. I have just been offered a job teaching adults with autism the keyboards. I am qualified to grade 6 level ARBSM but have no teaching qualification. Any suggestions how I can teach people with autism would be gratefully received.

Thank you


Hi, Jayne,

I haven't ever taught autistic ADULTS before. My instincts tell me that teaching adults would be much easier than teaching children with autism.

Please have a look at all the pages regarding autism and music on my site. The comments of readers are very valuable. Also, I suggest you go to www.yahoo.com and look at the "Groups" section of the site; under "Groups" there are several Piano forums. One of them has thousands of messages in which autistic students are mentioned or discussed in detail -- you can use the "search" feature to find all posts in which the words "autistic" or "autism" appear. These posts would be rewarding reading and studying for you.

I have found that adults who are BEGINNERS do not mind being instructed much in the same manner as children, even to using children's books (particularly when the adult is the grandma).

If you are unsure what direction to go in, then it is probably best to use materials you know very well and with which you feel comfortable.

If you really have never taught music before, then you have lots of preparation and reading ahead of you!

Talk to other teachers of these autistic adults, if you are able. Find out how sophisticated, or how basic, the educational materials are that other teachers use with them.

Finally, be prepared to use your own common sense and to BE FLEXIBLE. Remind yourself that this is a learning experience for you, too, and that the first time around, you are likely to make a lot of "mistakes". But a sense of fun and lightheartedness will make the class a joyful experience for your students. Bottom line: they want to MAKE MUSIC. Help them do that, any way that makes sense to you!

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Adult with asperges learning piano
by: Tim

Hi, I'm 54 and have been learning piano for six months.I like the theory side of music as well as the practical. However, I am having trouble with my timing. I find the metronome and counting distracting. So, first I learn the notes, count through a couple of times, then play the piece till it sounds right. This may not be the correct way but I feel comfortable with it.
I will spend two weeks on pieces before moving on. I am comfortable with that as I am not in a rush.
My teacher is a calm and patient person but I do feel nervous at lessons, which I find strange for a person my age. Maybe this will change as I improve my playing.

Hi, Tim -- Yes, you are right that this nervousness will diminish with time. I have found this over & over again when entering into new areas, not just in music, but other arenas of life, such as speaking in public. Keep up the good work.

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