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Indigenous music – an overlooked resource in music interventions with First Nations children in British Columbia, Canada, diagnosed with Autism
Karlstad University, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (starting 2013), Department of Educational Studies.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-9637-5338
2015 (English)Conference paper, Poster (Other academic)
Abstract [en]


Music interventions are reported to be helpful for children with autism in areas such as communication and social skills (Simpson & Keen, 2011). Structure and predictability in music is beneficial for children and adolescents with ASD (Wigram & Gold, 2006). ASD appears to be under-detected among First Nations children in BC, Canada (Lindblom, 2014).


The material used in this presentation is collected within the on-going PhD project with the working title: The meaning of music for First Nations children in BC, Canada, diagnosed with Autism. The use of traditional Indigenous music with First Nations children diagnosed with ASD was a point of interest in the study. Ethnographic fieldwork is used for data collection and the material consists of transcribed interviews, observations, filmed observations and field notes. Five cases are included in the study. This presentation focuses on one case.

Key Findings

Interviews: The child was sometimes exposed to Indigenous music in the home environment. In the school setting, he enjoyed one on one singing and playing rhythm instruments and the piano. In school no Indigenous music was used. Observations and interactions: The child was very focused on the Ipad during a video of singing and drumming by people from his Nation. Drumming and singing, one on one with the researcher, resulted in the child interacting in singing, playing the drum and taking turns. The child also engaged in eye contact.


It appears that the use of music in educational settings with First Nations children in BC, Canada, diagnosed with ASD, lacks in cultural sensitivity. The potential of Indigenous music as a resource in music interventions with Indigenous individuals diagnosed with ASD needs to be further investigated. This could influence future development of culturally sensitive interventions for children diagnosed with ASD in global Indigenous contexts.

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     psychiatric clinics of North America, 19(4), 855-867.

Lindblom, A. (2014). Under-detection of autism among First Nations children in British Columbia, Canada.                                       

Disability & Society. 29(8), 1248-1259.

Ouellette-Kuntz, H., Coo, H., Yu, C.T., Chudley, A.E., Noonan, A., Breitenbach., Ramji, N., Prosick, T. Bedard,

     A. & Holden, J.J.A. (2006). Prevalence of Pervasive Developmental Disorders in Two Canadian Provinces.

     Journal of Policy and Practice in Intellectual disabilities, 3(3), 164-172.

Simpson, K.,Keen, D. (2011). Music Interventions for Children with  Autism: Narrative Review of the     

     Literature. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. 41:1507-1514.   

Wigram, T. & Gold, C. (2006). Music therapy in the assessment and treatment of autistic

     spectrum disorder: clinical application and research evidence. Child: care, health and

     development, 32(5), 535-542.



Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Keyword [en]
Indigenous, autism, music, culture
National Category
Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-37980OAI: diva2:854965
APAC2015 - Asia Pacific Autism Conference, Brisbane 9-11 September 2015
Available from: 2015-09-18 Created: 2015-09-18 Last updated: 2016-07-04Bibliographically approved

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