Autistic Children Learn Life Skills Through Music

By Chris Eidson

Published 02/16 2014 08:27PM

Updated 02/17 2014 10:47AM

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- The Little Wing program at the School of Rock offers music classes for all preschoolers, but teachers are finding that the special needs students are learning much more than notes and chords.

When he's playing the drums, Tyberius is a rock star.
He's having too much fun to realize how the much the music is helping him learn and grow.

"He's always loved music, it just clicks for him, which is very common for kids with his disorder," his mother Becky Velasco said.

Tyberius has Autism and attends Little Wing music classes at the School of Rock to supplement his regular therapy.

"He's getting that social interaction in a safe environment, it's very fun for him," Velasco said.

Velasco said music has made a big difference in his interaction with other kids.

"He'll do a lot of stuff on his own by himself and you have to really pull him in, but with music you don't have to pull him in because he loves it," she said.

Jonna Howes teaches Tyberius and the other special needs students in individual and group lessons.

"They can connect to music in a way that they can't necessarily connect to other things," she said.
With every song and every strum she sees the benefits that dozens of medical studies have proven.

Music can oftentimes help autistic children with communication, behavior, and social interaction.

"They may not be able to have conversations, they may not be able to tell you how they feel, but they can express themselves through music," Howes said, "Seeing them grow and smile and open up, it's incredible. That's why music is a therapy."

This may seem like just a guitar to the precocious four year old, but to his parents and his teachers, it's an instrument of healing and of hope.

The School of Rock is expanding its Little Wing program and looking to add more teachers, especially for the special needs classes.

They have an open house coming up on Friday, February 28 at 6 p.m.

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