As the Coronavirus pandemic has us all locked in place, Brita Darany von Regensburg, of Friends of Autistic People, saw herself barred from seeing her daughter, Vanessa, once a week. Brita was devastated at not being able to see her daughter. Added to that, was the fact that Vanessa was very upset and disoriented that her Day Programs, which had provided her scheduled learning and activities during the day, had been cancelled. A Day Program, usually in another location, allows for a predictable structure for people with autism that they need and thrive on.
Friends of Autistic People (FAP), recognizing that feelings of suffering and depression for autistic people are caused by the lack of a predictable routine, saw an innovative approach to help provide relief: Previously, FAP and Infinity Music Therapy had partnered to create music therapy for adults and children with profound autism from financially struggling families. The onset of the global pandemic forced them to think of a new strategy, in which they discovered they could continue music therapy on a virtual platform. FAP is now funding Virtual Music Therapy Treatment sessions, which are aimed to break up the monotonous days of people who are sheltered in group homes during the pandemic, thereby providing them with a fun and predictable educational activity at least once a week.
Providing music therapy virtually has its added benefits. There is a ripple effect: each session reaches several more people than an in-person session. In addition to the youngster with autism receiving his/her treatment session, the participating parent or group home worker is learning techniques, which they can use to teach other group home staff and other family members. These new trainees, in turn, can provide the same services to other group home residents as well as to cousins, friends, neighbors, etc. who live at home. With this, the service of virtual music therapy exponentially expands, and we alleviate the Covid-induced stress in more people than ever before.