Joseph Straus

Music Therapy and Autism: A View from Disability Studies

Joseph Straus


Music therapy has positioned itself squarely within the medical model of disability, arguing that many sorts of human variability should be understood as illnesses, diseases, or other sorts of pathological medical conditions, and offering music as a source of normalization, remediation, and therapy toward a possible cure.  But for many human conditions, including autism, cure is neither possible nor desirable.  Instead of seeking to normalize autistic people, music therapy might instead acknowledge their distinctive sorts of musical interests and attitudes and offer to enhance their indigenous culture in an atmosphere of mutual respect.  Instead of normalization and cure, music therapists might seek enhanced self-expression, knowledge, and pleasure through mutual music-making.


disability studies; music; autism

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Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy (ISSN 1504-1611)