Conor has an autistic spectrum disorder, and often found his time in the Honeylands nursery group distressing, finding it extremely difficult to participate in group activities. He was referred for music therapy in the hope that it would provide him with a non-verbal expressive outlet for his emotions. This would lessen his anxieties and frustrations and would encourage him to tolerate the presence of another person alongside him in a shared activity.
In the early sessions he often arrived distressed, and would hide under his blanket. But gradually he became calmer and ventured out to explore the music therapy room. Slowly he became more active in the sessions, and moved from intolerance of other sound to allowing the therapist to accompany his playing with her singing. Then he began to strum the autoharp with her, with good eye contact. for the first time. He would put her hands back on the strings if he wanted her to play again. Conor did not play the instruments conventionally. He liked to pluck them using the nails of his thumb and middle finger and could then join in a musical dialogue.
Conor did not usually use language to communicate but a huge moment was at the end of the ‘Hello’ song, when he looked directly at the music therapist and sang ‘Hello Sue’!