Chapter

Songs Without Words: Exploring How Music Can Serve as a Proxy Language in Social Interaction with Autistic Children

Adam Ockelford

in Music, Health, and Wellbeing

Published in print February 2012 | ISBN: 9780199586974
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191738357 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199586974.003.0021
Songs Without Words: Exploring How Music Can Serve as a Proxy Language in Social Interaction with Autistic Children

Show Summary Details

Preview

This chapter examines different musical interactions involving children with autism in the early stages of language development, and informally considers their potential impact on wellbeing. Some children and young people on the autism spectrum who use few or no words have the capacity to co-opt music as a proxy language — as a fully-fledged medium of social interaction — and will do so given an empathetic and musically competent partner with whom to engage. According to zygonic theory, imitation lies at the heart of musical structure, and it is through repeating, transforming, or even consciously avoiding the material that is offered in dialogues that patterns of influence, control, and autonomy between participants can be established, maintained, or changed. Such interactions may be relatively simple or highly sophisticated, and analysis using a zygonic approach permits teachers and therapists to gauge with some precision the impact that one participant has on another.

Keywords: musical interactions; autism; language development; wellbeing; zygonic theory; imitation

Chapter.  8218 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Music Theory and Analysis

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.