Health Team

Non-profit group helps people with autism communicate through song

Posted November 11, 2009 5:40 p.m. EST
Updated November 11, 2009 6:38 p.m. EST

— Students with autism have special challenges. They have trouble communicating, difficulty expressing their emotions and interacting with each other and their teachers.

At Durham's School for the Performing Arts, autistic students work with Laura MacCallum and Yasmine White, with the non-profit group Voices Together, use music to help these students overcome those hurdles.

“The structure of the songs really help to cue their brains and they're able to output information a lot easier,” MacCallum said. “Also, being in that experience and feeling successful increases their motivation to work on their communication skills.”

White said the students find the singing “stimulates the whole brain.”

The student groups are working toward a short-term goal of performing in front of their parents.

White said the ultimate goal for the students is to be independent and be a part of their communities.

Voices Together works with about 400 students at several schools in the Triangle. The group also serves teen, adults and older adults.

The non-profit receives some public school money, but is mostly funded by foundations and corporations.