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Music-based curriculum helps children with disabilities learn

Posted May 10, 2012

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— Many children with disorders, such as autism, can struggle communicating and socializing with others, but a new program in four North Carolina school districts is helping change that.

Voices Together, a non-profit organization, has developed a curriculum that combines therapeutic qualities of music, essential speech, communication and social integration training with the structure of a chorus to help children with disabilities bridge the gap.

“It’s innovative and has a curriculum, and we’re seeing these amazing outcomes,” Voices Together executive director Yasmine White said. “It includes the whole child in the learning process. It’s emotional, social and cognitive.”

Erica Oliver said her 15-year-old son, Billy Porter, has embraced the musical approach to learning.

“He sang before he could talk, so I knew it was going to be one of these things that would be very positive for his life,” she said. 

Voices Together Music-based curriculum helps children with disabilities learn

White said the program also helps children build friendships and bond with each other, something that is often tough for children with disabilities.

“We see students speak for the first time. We see students that are able to tell their teacher how they are feeling for the first time,” White said.

Oliver agreed, saying her son has gained more skills since he started with Voices Together, which uses certified music therapists in each school.

Voices Together operates choruses in Durham, Orange, Chatham and Alamance county school systems, but hopes to expand its curriculum across the state.

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