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How Children with Autism Can Benefit from Drumming

How Children with Autism Can Benefit from Drumming

Improved motor control is just one advantage of children with autism taking up the drums.

If you’ve ever been to a Cleveland Indians home baseball game, chances are about 100 percent that you’ve heard a tom-tom drum echoing from the top bleacher seats. The drummer, since 1973, is a guy named John Adams, a retired AT&T worker who, besides attending home games, co-teaches a graduate level course at Cleveland State University on aquatics for kids with disabilities.

We’re pretty sure Adams would be delighted to know—if he doesn’t already—that drumming does more than rev up a sports crowd. It helps children diagnosed with autism improve their motor control and enhances their powers of concentration and communication.

According to a new study, autistic children who drum for 60 minutes a week experience vast improvement in dexterity, rhythm and overall timing along with an improved ability to concentrate on their homework. And the benefits don’t stop there.

Teachers told the researchers that their autistic students who played the drums were also better able to follow instructions, and their social interactions and communication with peers, adults and the school staff improved significantly.

So if you know someone who has autism or someone who has a child with autism, suggest they give “The Kit” (as Ringo Starr calls a drum set) a try—either a traditional model or a newer electronic drum (great ’cause you can control the volume). Check local music stores for info on lessons. Then you’ll discover if you are—or are related to—a budding Buddy Rich or an emerging Shelia E.

Medically reviewed in February 2020.

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