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Professor's Research Gives Autism a Voice

(February 06, 2012)

HUNTSVILLE, TX -- (Marketwire) -- 02/06/12 -- The research of Sam Houston State University music therapy graduate program coordinator Hayoung Lim has been considered potentially groundbreaking for the skyrocketing number of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders worldwide.

Lim's first book, "Developmental Speech-Language Training through Music for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders," printed by London's Jessica Kingsley Publishers, explores the utilization of various speech-language acquisition principles to increase the communication skills of children with autism.

"In my research, when I divided children with autism into the different levels of function, high-level and low-level, I found that for low-functioning children with autism, music training has more of an effect on them," she said. "For high-functioning children, both music and speech are effective, but for low-functioning children, music is more effective.

"I had a lot of students who never had a functional vocabulary who just loved to respond to the music and then eventually they started to say words," she said.

The book presents the theoretical explanations of why music therapy works and provides clinical interventions -- including the music, lyrics and images -- that can be used by practitioners, teachers and parents.

Lim said this kind of training also could have a positive influence on other problematic areas for these children, including turn-taking, social-interaction, and attention span.

"Speech-language is a major, critical problem because parents tend to notice when something's not right with their children due to the delay in speech or their ability to talk," she said. "But once they communicate better with their parents or peers, tantrums decreased; they behaved better because they understand and communicate better. You see a chain effect from the increase in language."

Lim said she doesn't like to talk about treatment in terms of a "cure" but instead prefers to focus on the progress children make through this work.

"If they can function at the maximum level, that is good," she said. "No one really utilizes our resources 100 percent, but I can function as much as I can. I think that's the cure; that's the aim for the treatment.

"We have to find something they are able to do and then start to provide a treatment intervention and facilitate and develop that skill, ability and function."

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Sam Houston State University
Office of Communications
Jennifer Gauntt
(936) 294-4406

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