Drumming to rock music for 60 minutes each week could help children with autism, a study suggests.Scientists found youngsters on the spectrum were better able to interact with their peers at school after taking part in the sessions.They say it offers hope as people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), especially children, are known to struggle in social situations.
The trial also suggested drumming could help autistic children follow instructions from their teacher easier, which would help them in school.University of Chichester led the study on 19 pupils at Milestone School in Gloucester. All were on the spectrum.Their parents and staff at the school were asked to make observations of the pupils before, during and after the 10-week study.
Each child had two 30-minute drumming session aimed at being fun, delivered by tutors using electronic kits provided by charities in Gloucestershire.Over the course of the study, the researchers found the children had a significant improvement in dexterity, rhythm and timing.
The youngsters also performed better in daily tasks outside school, including being better able to concentrate on homework.And teachers reported the pupils were also better able to concentrate at school and had enhanced communication with peers and teachers. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people with autism have trouble with social, emotional and communication skills that usually develop before the age of three and last throughout a person’s life.
Specific signs of autism include: Reactions to smell, taste, look, feel or sound are unusual; Difficulty adapting to changes in routine; Unable to repeat or echo what is said to them; Difficulty expressing desires using words or motions; Unable to discuss their own feelings or other people’s; Difficulty with acts of affection like hugging; Prefer to be alone and avoid eye contact; Difficulty relating to other people; and Unable to point at objects or look at objects when others point to them.
The results have yet to be published in a scientific journal, but they add to similar trials by the team already.The investigation is a continuation of research undertaken by the academics, known collectively as the Clem Burke Drumming Project (CBDP).Mr Burke, nicknamed the Doctor of Rock, was the drummer for Blondie, a rock band that has sold millions of records worldwide.
The project aims to demonstrate, through science, the value of learning how to play the drums for school pupils.Lead researcher Dr. Marcus Smith, who is one of the founding members of the CBDP, described the research as ‘unique’ and ‘remarkable’.He added: “[The project] has demonstrated the positive impact on a pupil’s health and wellbeing following rock drumming practice.
“Rock drumming as a potent intervention for individuals experiencing brain disorders, such as autism, is fascinating.“And I am delighted that it builds upon the pioneering work undertaken by colleagues from the CBDP.”
Dr. Steve Draper, study co-author and also part of the CBDP, also praised the results of the study.He added: “Drumming has a unique blend of physical activity, coordination and musicality, all of which are beneficial to well-being.“It has been amazing to watch the children thrive and develop to this challenge. Drumming has the potential to positively impact a wide range of people.”