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Music and Autism : The Do's and Don'ts

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Please check out my award-winning DVD and Music Package on my store page.

To read an article that I wrote about the do's and don'ts of music and autism, please click here.

To read a transcription of this video blog post, please click here.


Ryan Judd is a board certified music therapist. He has a master's degree in Music Therapy and a bachelor's degree in Psychology, with an emphasis on Child Development. He has been working as a music therapist with children with special needs for more than 16 years. In addition to working one on one with clients, Ryan also leads groups focused on the development of social skills.  His services are available in Southern New Hampshire, Northern Massachussets and Southern Maine.  He lives in the Seacoast region with his wife who is a 1st grade teacher.


  • Judith Lange Friday, 11 October 2013

    Hi Ryan, thanks for sharing. Great info for people to make them dare!
    I'm a music therapist from the Netherlands. I'd love to exchange ideas about music therapy with you. Do you have an email adress?
    Judith Lange

  • Ryan Friday, 11 October 2013

    Hey Judith, thanks so much for the comment! I would be happy to exchange some ideas with you. Please e-mail me at

  • Rita Monday, 14 October 2013

    hI Ryan,
    I have a self-contained student (4th grade male) on the Autism Spectrum. Apparently he watches U-Tube (piano playing) and he remembers the chords, bits and pieces of songs, for example: He can play Yankee Doodle, Beethoven's 5th Symphony (opening notes), but he also seems to like creating songs. Music teachers at our school have offered to teach him to play the piano, which starts after "Columbus Day!" My student is also self-contained and all academics are through ABA Discrete Trial Teaching. My questions are: How do I become a certified music specialist, how long does it take, I'm already certified to teach K-12 and what suggestions do you have that might help him to relax more. He tends to melt down biting his hand profusely and strikes out at people when this occurs, when I get him calm, can singing a melody that is soothing help? I'm working with an Early Intervention Team to help him lower the incidences of meltdowns, which occurs as often as 20 times a day and its exhausting.
    Please offer any suggestions that I could use to help my student, he is definitely musical (in his head, he hums songs, not just humming).
    Thank you,

  • Ryan Monday, 14 October 2013

    Hi Rita, thanks for the questions. To become a music therapist you attend a bachelors or masters program in music therapy. There are also some masters level equivalency programs. Please check out this link for more info. I would definitely try singing to your student to help him calm down. Playing recorded music that he likes can also help. Some of my clients have MP3 players with playlists of their favorite music and they use noise cancelling headphones to listen to the music. I have found that having a child engage in music making can also have a calming effect. Please also consider checking out my DVD/CD and Instrument package at It sounds like your student would be a perfect candidate for these songs and activities. Please let me know if you have any questions. Thank you!

  • Nupur Hackwood Friday, 15 November 2013

    Hello Ryan
    You have an amazing gift. What you do is incredible. I have watched your videos.
    I am a dentist in Australia and have been totally absorbed about the possibility of using music therapy in a Home called Anandaniketan for special needs children and adults in Kolkata India where I go each year to do voluntary aid work. I have already sent a shipment of musical instruments including keyboard/drums/ etc etc to Kolkata with the generous donations I received from my patients. I may have found a local music therapist to start up this programme in the remote village where the home is ( I hope ).
    I have discovered through my reading the power of the 72 Indian ragas and have been spending hours online trying to help set up this Music Therapy using Indian instruments, western instruments, ragas etc.
    Ryan, if you are ever travelling through Kolkata please let me know coz I need you there (:-)))) Maybe you could be a music therapist without borders - Skype in and do your magic!!!
    Nupur Hackwood
    Brisbane, Australia

  • Ryan Tuesday, 17 December 2013

    Hi Nupur, thanks so much for sharing your story! It sounds like you are doing amazing things. Keep up the fantastic work and if I am ever in Kolkata, I will look you up! :)

  • Dionne Mast Thursday, 21 January 2021

    I just found your site and I am extremely thankful for all your free tips! I am a paraprofessional working with a special needs student and am finding so many good tips that I am going to try out. While I work in a public school setting, I still think I can incorporate many of these things on situations that I have been frustrated by. Not only that, but the patience and show of pause you have with the children is incredible! It is just what I needed to see! I don't have much money right now as I'm going back to school to become an elementary/special education teacher and am on a very tight budget, so I doubt I will be able to afford your products for sale, but thank you so much for sharing this information for free. It is truly a God send! And thank you for showing real life examples of working with students. Thank you to your parents for being willing to share such an intimate moment of learning for the benefit of others. Thank you again!

  • Ryan Judd Friday, 29 January 2021

    Hi Dionne, thanks so much for commenting. Please email me at and I will get you some of those resources!


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