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The use of music to feel happy and safe exemplified by the case of Debbie, a First Nations teenager diagnosed with ASD
Karlstad University, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (starting 2013), Department of Educational Studies.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-9637-5338
2016 (English)Conference paper, Poster (Refereed)
Abstract [en]


This presentation introduces a case study that aims to show how music can be used to improve the quality of life for individuals diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).


There is extensive research on music interventions for individuals with ASD but there is a lack on research within Indigenous context. This presentation focuses on one of five cases, a teen called Debbie, from a research project on the meaning of music for First Nations children in British Columbia, Canada, diagnosed with ASD.


Ethnographic field studies strongly influenced by Indigenous research methodologies were conducted in 2013 and 2014. The material consists of transcribed interviews, observations, and videotaped observations and music interventions.

Ethical aspects

This research project was approved by the ethical committee at the University of Eastern Finland. Informed consent was given by all who participated in the study and consent was negotiated throughout the research process. All names were changed and tribal affiliation omitted.


Debbie uses music in all aspects of her life to feel happy and safe. She listens to it, watches videos, sings and dances whenever possible. At home, in school and at the after school club, music is a big part of her structure. Contemporary pop and dance music has been her preference until she recently made and played an Aboriginal drum.

Closing remarks

There is a scarcity of research on music and autism within Indigenous context. Hopefully, this case can inspire to future research and influence support systems and interventions.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
National Category
Social Sciences
Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-46225OAI: diva2:972457
XI Autism Europe International Congress
The Kempe FoundationsLars Hierta Memorial FoundationHelge Ax:son Johnsons stiftelse
Available from: 2016-09-21 Created: 2016-09-21 Last updated: 2016-09-21

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