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Can Opera Help Young Adults with Autism with their Speech?

May 19, 2014

(May 19, 2014) -- Dr. Michele Dunn, director of Montefiore Hospital's Autism Center,  and Larry Harris, a former pro football player turned professional opera singer, are collaborating to help young teens with autism in New York through singing techniques. Dunn and Harris. In an article for NY City LensSandhya Subbarao focuses on efforts by Dunn and Harris to use singing techniques to address speech deficits among teens with autism, who often have problems with rhythm, stress and intonation.

Dr. Dunn and Mr. Harris's new project focuses on teaching young adults with autism how to first produce different sounds followed by phrases and then complete sentences and paragraphs using singing techniques focused on breathing.

Donna S. Murray, Ph.D., senior director of Autism Speaks Autism Treatment Network said of the approach, “There has been a lot of intervention around the social and communication aspects of autism, using speech and language therapy, and even music therapy. But we have not been successful at remediating that residual monotone, flat prosody effect that still makes individuals at the high end of the autism spectrum sound different. I am excited about their new approach."