While the cause of autism is unknown, the symptoms and various ways to handle them have been mapped out. Increasingly, we are seeing drumming used as a way to help people with autism because drumming has been shown to improve communication, lessen anxiety, and balance the brain. People who have autism benefit tremendously from the physical and musical aspects of beating drums, which can provide a way of communication for even the most incommunicative people on the autism spectrum.
Most experts agree that autism and drumming make a great pairing for specific reasons. The socialization opportunities are certainly impactful. Depending upon where a person falls on the autism spectrum, socialization skills and abilities will be affected to various degrees. While some people diagnosed with autism are considered “high functioning” and may seem better able to regulate themselves and interact with others, one of the main symptoms of autism is trouble in this area. Drumming is a communication tool and, as such, it helps people of all abilities express themselves better and unite more easily.
This assisted unification helps barriers to communication drop. When we drum, we are allowing ourselves to move beyond our mental precepts and simply exist in the moment. Drumming can be a great equalizer, inviting everyone involved to join the same space and meet each other where they are. For people with autism, this is very helpful. Often, people with autism must interact with people who only see deficits and problems within them. Drumming together allows people without autism an opportunity to move beyond their preconceived notions and fears to truly meet the diagnosed person on a human level.
Autism and drumming are also a wonderful combination because drumming stimulates the right hemisphere of the brain. The right side of the brain is where we process our emotional and artistic aspects. This is part of why drumming helps with bonding, communication, and socialization. All three of those skills have a foundation in emotion. Anything that helps us tap into our emotions is likely to increase our capacity for relating to one another. Our artistic tendencies are simply expression. As people with autism drum, they begin to do what every drummer does: express what is flowing within.
Autism Awareness Month is a good time to explore the ways we all can help make the lives of people with autism a little easier. In general, there is plenty of focus on how to make people on the autism spectrum fit in with other populations, but this month gives us all an opportunity to figure out how we can better manage ourselves among people with autism. Autism and drumming can be about much more than changing others to fit our mold. When we give in to the power of the drum, we remember that there are no molds and we let the drum remind us of the significance of each beautiful soul.