Katherine* is a 13-year old student attending a school with a special needs unit in Liverpool. She started her piano and drums lessons with a Music of Life teacher, Phillipa, in September 2017. The following comments are part of feedback received from the SEN coordinator at Katherine’s school:

“Katherine’s ASD (Asperger’s) is a major obstacle at times for her. As a direct result of the sessions, Katherine has started to overcome her anxiety  associated with school, which has improved her attendance and participation in other parts of the curriculum. It would be no exaggeration to say that these sessions have been the sole motivator for her to attend school. She would not even consider attending an educational setting before this intervention. She is increasingly confident in her
own abilities and recognises genuine praise of her efforts.

There were previously some mental health concerns about the detrimental effect Katherine’s anxiety may cause her due to social isolation and inactivity. During the sessions Katherine has progressed from using just one room at school to following the curriculum with her peers in several rooms around the building. Katherine is a very pleasant pupil but her anxiety can occasionally manifest itself through her behaviour. The positive effect of the sessions have supported Katherine to the extent there have been no behaviour concerns raised recently.

Social and communication skills are widely recognised as an obstacle for pupils with ASD (Asperger’s). Through Phillipa’s positive and supportive personality Katherine has been able to develop a fantastic rapport with Phillipa which will support Katherine in future interactions with new people. Furthermore, the sessions have acted as an ‘ice breaker’ for staff to start a conversation with Katherine, especially when the intended area for discussion was not music related.

Speech and Language difficulties have been identified as a barrier for Katherine from an early age. The use of speech and language in the sessions have had a domino effect in supporting Katherine in expressing herself verbally and encouraging her to use processing time for
new  information.”