Sampoorna Music Therapy Center for children with autism, a project of Kilikili Trust, is located in Bangalore and endeavours to use Indian music as a therapeutic intervention to help children on the autism spectrum develop skills and abilities which they need to functionally adapt to their environment, and thus become more of who they truly are.
The focus is to develop skills in social, emotional, motor and cognitive areas for children on ASD through a structured, consistent, eclectic and long-term music intervention program. The center will also hone the musical talent of children who demonstrate a flair for music.
Sampoorna works with children in the age bracket of 4-14 years. It has achieved the most progress with children who receive sustained music therapy, i.e., for six months or more. Children who joined in early 2013 and have continued to this day have come a long way in their development – cognitively and musically. While appreciation for music has increased to the extent that multiple developmental goals can be worked on simultaneously, it is also important to note the achieved level of comfort and connect. To quote Aurelio from his workshop at Sampoorna,
“The two important elements of music therapy are awareness and compassion. Awareness comes through studies while compassion comes from the heart. Compassion ‘Comes from Passion’.”
Music Therapy Goals
Sampoorna emerges with its model
Sampoorna developed a music therapy model for children at various levels. The goals are based on the Music Therapy Workshop conducted by Aurelio, a world-renowned music therapist and Founder of Svaram: Musical Instruments and Research. Through various voice and instrument exploration sessions of merging rhythm and melody, it was possible to form a more nuanced understanding of how to use music effectively for children with autism. Demonstration by Aurelio led to the music therapists at Sampoorna developing a model with the advantage of structure and flexibility of creative improvisation. The beauty of the goals reside in their applicability across the spectrum and, since their conscious implementation beginning from June 2014, have been helpful in articulating techniques and outcomes more efficiently. The goals are interdependent; though there are focus areas for each child, these are worked on simultaneously.
THE FIVE GOALS
Connectedness: Achieving comfort in the music therapy setting, willingness to enter the space and understand the surroundings, connect with the music therapist
Communication: Verbal and gestural communication, vocalisation, expressing needs and wants, use of schedule cards to make choices regarding activities and musical instruments
Breaking Patterns and Behaviour: Reducing anxiety and self-stimulatory behaviours by channelizing movement towards constructive activities such as playing a musical instrument
Developing Musicality – Musical Instruction and Music as Self-Expression: Expressing oneself through music, showing inclination to vocal or instrumental music, learning to play an instrument
Social Skills: Learning to interact with peers, working towards appropriate behaviour and speech, engaging in activities as a group, playing music in an ensemble with the other children