“It’s Not What’s Done, But Why It’s Done”
Music Therapists’ Understanding of Normalisation, Maximisation and the Neurodiversity Movement
Keywords:music therapy, autism, neurodiversity, ableism
This position paper offers our personal reflections as five music therapists from varying social and international contexts attempting to understand and engage with the theory, politics and implications of the Neurodiversity Movement. We begin by positioning our views on the importance of the therapist’s intentionality when working with individuals for whom this social, cultural and political movement may represent central beliefs and values. The evolution of the Neurodiversity Movement is discussed, growing from the social model of disability and Disability Rights Movements to present a challenge to the dominant, medicalised model of disability. Throughout the paper, we invite critical debate around the role, position and attitude of the music therapist when working with neurodivergent participants, taking the powerful words of Autistic author and activist, Penni Winter, as our provocation. Finally, we offer our interpretation of key concepts and dimensions of this discourse, before sharing examples of how we might apply these understandings to tangible tenets of music therapy practice in different contexts through a series of brief composite case stories. Through critical reflection and discussion, we attempt to draw together the threads of these diverse narratives to challenge a normocentric position, and conclude by posing further questions for the reader and the wider music therapy profession.
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Copyright (c) 2020 Beth Pickard, Grace Thompson, Maren Metell, Efrat Roginsky, Cochavit Elefant
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