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Boston Conservatory to Host Teaching Music to Students on the Autism Spectrum Conference

The Boston Conservatory will host its second annual Teaching Music to Students on the Autism Spectrum conference May 9–10, 2014. The conference is designed for both public and private educators interested in learning how to work effectively with students on the autism spectrum and sharing ideas with others. 

The two-day conference will include sessions on: an introduction to autism spectrum disorder; how to apply behavioral teaching strategies to individual and group music instruction; how people on the autism spectrum learn and perceive music; and how to work effectively with students on the autism spectrum and their families. 

“Many studies have found that children with autism spectrum disorder respond well to music,” said Rhoda Bernard, Ed.D., director of The Boston Conservatory Program for Students on the Autism Spectrum. “Yet, teachers and music educators rarely are given specialized training. This innovative event is designed to fill a distinct need, offering exceptional learning opportunities to any educator who is interested.” 

Featured speakers include James Ellis, Ph.D., who has worked as a clinical psychologist and behavioral analyst with children on the autism spectrum for more than 20 years, and Stephen Shore, Ed.D., a musician himself who was nonverbal until the age of four and diagnosed with “atypical development with strong autistic tendencies.” There will also be presentations by teachers, researchers and individuals with autism. A full conference agenda will be available soon at http://www.bostonconservatory.edu/teaching-music-students-autism-spectru...

One in 88 children in the U.S. has some form of autism, according to a 2012 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “While more research needs to be done, the organization of music has been found to help many people on the autism spectrum by helping them structure both the cognitive and sensory world,” said Bernard. “There are so many children on the spectrum who have exceptional musical abilities, which may not develop because not all teachers understand how to modify their techniques to best help these students. And every student needs a different form of adaptations, depending on their individual needs.” 

This year’s conference will feature more hands-on sessions, as requested by many of last year’s 65 attendees. Registration for both days is $65 and includes lunch on Saturday, thanks to an anonymous endowment given to The Boston Conservatory Program for Students on the Autism Spectrum, which also funds scholarships for families in the program and ongoing research. 

“We want everyone—working teachers, graduate students, people who otherwise may not be able to afford the cost of the event—to join us at this conference,” said Bernard. “This is all about accessibility and sharing the ideas that will help more children on the autism spectrum flourish with music education.” 

Registration for Teaching Music to Students on the Autism Spectrum is now open. You can find more information and apply at http://www.bostonconservatory.edu/teaching-music-students-autism-spectrum. The session on Friday, May 9 runs from 1–5 p.m. and the session on Saturday, May 10 runs from 9:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Lunch will be provided free of charge at the Saturday session. All events take place in Studio 401 of The Boston Conservatory, 31 Hemenway Street, Boston. All attendees are encouraged to attend the spring recital for students in The Boston Conservatory Program for Students on the Autism Spectrum at 6 p.m. on Saturday. Teachers can earn 12 Professional Development Points at this conference. 

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