How music therapy benefits the autistic brain

While the benefits of music therapy are well known, more in-depth research explores how music benefits children with autism.

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  • Music is used in many different therapies. Used in conjunction with traditional therapies, music therapy benefits us in a variety of different ways.
  • According to a 2004 study, music intervention used with children and teens with ASD (autism spectrum disorder) can improve their social behaviors, increase focus and attention, and reduce their anxiety and improve body awareness.
  • Various music therapy activities and tools can be used to help improve the quality of life of children with autism.
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1 in 6 school children meet criteria for mental disorder diagnosis, according to CDC study

Symptoms of mental illness in children are often dismissed as "going through a phase."

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  • A 2020 CDC study examined mental health symptoms in four different school districts within the United States from 2014-2018. This study found that, based on the reports from both teachers and parents, one in six students showed enough behavioral or emotional symptoms to be diagnosed with a childhood mental disorder.
  • Mental health conditions or illnesses in children are generally defined as delays or disruptions in developing age-appropriate thinking, behaviors, social skills, or emotional regulation.
  • Children can develop many of the same mental health conditions as adults, but their symptoms may be different.

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Education innovation: Our window of opportunity is here

Technology is an important tool, but it will take an ecosystem of educators, students, and caregivers to make the most of it.

  • The old adage that it "takes a village" has proven true for education in the time of coronavirus. What constitutes a "school" and who is considered an "educator" has changed out of necessity, but important opportunities for the future have come from these unexpected circumstances as communities have and continue to adapt.
  • "The greatest human superpower is empathy," says Kaya Henderson, "the ability to deeply connect with other people and to see yourself in them and to see them in you." She argues that "a part of the reason why we are so divided in this world today is because we see people as 'other' and we don't see them as extensions of ourselves."
  • While technology has become a big part of the education landscape, community is still the keystone. "I want technology to amplify and to scale excellence," Henderson says. "To amplify knowledge and to scale excellence all at the same time while paying deep attention to the human connections that are integral to education."
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Equity made Estonia an educational front runner

Estonia has combined a belief in learning with equal-access technology to create one of world's best education systems.

  • Estonia became a top performer in the most recent PISA, a worldwide study of 15-year-old students' capabilities in math, reading, and science.
  • PISA data showed that Estonia has done remarkably well in reducing the gap between a student's socioeconomic background and their access to quality education.
  • The country's push toward providing equal-access to learning technology is a modern example of the culture's dedication to equity in education.
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How can we design schools to be anti-racist?

From reassessing the way schools are funded to changing the curriculum, there are ways to fix the inequities in education.

  • Recognizing when something is overtly racist is easy, but when it comes to education in America there is often subtle and systemic racism at play that can put children at an early disadvantage. Chris Lehman of the Science Leadership Academy says that now is the time to have these important conversations and to design schools to be anti-racist.
  • Lehman says that in Philadelphia, the amount of money spent on one child's K-12 education can be $170,000 less than that of another child who lives in the suburb just a block away. These racist systems and structures are in place in cities across the country but are often not addressed.
  • Family income directly translates to the amount spent by the public to educate children. "That's one of the most anti-American things I can imagine," Lehman says about the racial and socioeconomic inequity. While funding is a major component, changes must also be made at the curriculum level.
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