Honors College

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Publication Date

Spring 5-2017


Autism: A Song of Understanding is a musical composition inspired by Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) which summarizes the entire spectrum through three common categories of symptoms: language, social, and behavior. The piece consists of three movements from the perspective of the child and the fourth movement takes the parent/guardian/outsider’s perspective. Language starts in the early morning when a beeping alarm clock is silenced with a groan. The parent walks in and tries to rouse the child (Alex) out of bed. Alex responds, attempting to repeat the parent’s good-morning greeting. After failing to resolve the misunderstanding, Alex uses their self-stimulatory behavior (aka stimming) to calm themselves. In Social, Alex is playing by themselves at recess when some other Students go over and invite Alex to join their game. Alex initially ignores them, but eventually decides to try. Alex misunderstands the other children’s social cues and runs off stimming in frustration. In Behavior, the parent breaks their usual routine and takes Alex to the grocery store on the way home. This change, as well as the overwhelming amount of sensory input surrounding them, leads Alex to a sensory overload meltdown. We hear the familiar tune of stimming again, but it doesn’t seem to calm them as well as it did earlier. In Perspective, the surrounding adults reflect upon the day. They come to the idea that it might be Autism Spectrum Disorder and resolve to work together to help Alex.