Music and movement combined has the power to re-map the brain! Autism Movement Therapy® is a program designed by Joanne Lara – a professional dancer turned classroom education specialist turned university professor! The program is based on interhemispheric sensory integration to help children reach their potential. Music and movement can literally rewire the brain to benefit a child’s communication, cognitive function, behaviour and motor skills.
Joanne is just as passionate about empowering people on the spectrum to find suitable employment. As the Executive Director for Autism Works Now! – she has lots of good tips on teaching pre-employment skills to teenagers and young adults.
5 Rapid Fire Questions
1. What is one habit parents can implement today?
Ask, don’t tell. Ask the question, don’t tell your child ‘put your backpack over there’, ‘get out your homework’. Ask your child ‘where does your backpack belong?’, ‘what are you supposed to be doing now?
In essence what parents can do is begin to see or support the idea or vision as I call it of the child working. It is up to the parent to begin to see the child through different eyes; not eyes of feeling sorry for the child but through eyes that say ‘’How am I going to make him to be the best he can be and have a successful quality of life?’’.
2. What do people never ask you that you wish they did?
I like that you asked me how I started my journey and you asked me a much more personal question of why I felt that I did the work I do, very few people go there with me and I had a pretty troubling beginning and I really do believe that is why I do the work that I do now. There are very few people who ask me that question; ‘’What is that part of me that resonates with individuals that have autism?’’.
3. What book would you recommend all parents read?
Thinking In Pictures by Temple Grandin
The Brain That Changes Itself by Norman Doidge.
4. What is your top unfinished bucket list items?
Speaking at Harvard was one of them, and now I’m going to tick that one off, that is like a pinch me moment ‘I’m going to Harvard!’. If someone had said to me ten years ago that you’re going to be talking about movement and music for kids with autism at Harvard’; I would have said ‘you’re crazy’. Here it is coming around the corner in a couple of weeks I will be doing it.
I would say probably on a much more humanitarian level I’ve been wanting to go to Africa for a long time. Africa needs us very badly and that would probably be the next thing on my bucket list.
5. If you could only offer one piece of advice to parents, what would it be?
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So….until next fortnight, I encourage you to open your mind, respect the differences and above all believe that YOU can make a difference from homebase!
With love and hope,