Glad Summer Music
A story by Hear My Music
We provided daily music sessions for three weeks in the summer holidays for children aged 5-13 who have Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Participants chose to either attend a group session or an individual session.
What Glad Summer Music did
Children who attend Glad Spectrum Music, weekly term-time after school classes were offered places to attend the summer sessions. We advertised the sessions in schools, on Autism Networks, through social media and through word of mouth. One Autism group got in touch to arrange a group booking and we worked in partnership with Cosgrove Care summer play scheme to recruit other children for group sessions.
Each child attended daily for 3-5 days, 5 for individual sessions and 11 in group sessions. The project was extended beyond the summer with one participant choosing to attend weekly during term time from August-November.
The classes took place in the Glad Foundation for two weeks of the sessions. Parents/carers used the time to chat, work or go for a quiet coffee. The third week of the sessions took place in St John's Church Centre, Hamilton. The centre has a cafe area where parent's waited during the session.
The music sessions involved learning songs, improvisation, exploring sound, developing turn-taking and listening skills, learning instruments and working on performance skills. At the end of each week there was a sharing session where participants showed their parents/carers what they had done during the week.
His mum stayed in the building for the first session to ensure that he was settled. By the 2nd session she was relaxed enough to leave and do some chores. She enjoyed seeing him enjoying an activity and felt that it was nice to have something to break up the day in the long holiday. His communication developed well throughout the sessions, his mum left with ideas of how musical activities they could do together at home.
Her parents are constantly looking for opportunities for her to mix with her peers. They now will join this group for other activities, the music group was the catalyst to start this as she wouldn't usually integrate herself with a group so easily. Her parents now have the support of this group too.
Some children needed to attend completely independently due to their specific needs. This approach, ensuring that it is right for every individual is very important to ensure that there is access for everyone who may want to attend.
What Hear My Music has learnedThis fund allowed us to provide continuity for children who attend our term-time music sessions. This is something that we feel is important, particularly for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. We discovered that although many did want to attend, some couldn't make the dates and it was a challenge to juggle places and times to suit everybody. Children who attend term-time sessions were given priority over slots.
There was some last minute cancellations, although we operated a waiting list, it wasn't always possible to fill the slots last minute. This meant that we offered a block of the sessions after school in term-time.
We originally planned that we wouldn't work with existing groups or play schemes as we wanted to target children who don't currently attend them. We discovered that there was a lack of specialist music activity in general and found that accessing some children through groups and some independently through their families was the best approach.
We attracted some new carers but most had heard of the organisation through the schools their children attend. In the future we will work on attracting more new participants, particularly those who feel anxious in trying any new activity.