autism, music, music therapy, music therapy for autism, musical stories, neurologic music therapy, singing, special needs

Creating a musical story for ASD

The idea of a musical story for ASD was inspired by social stories that are being used with more and more frequency within the ASD world. Carol Grey officially created Social Stories in 1990 after working with a team of incredible parents, professionals, and students for many years. One of Grey’s first stories was a step-by-step story that described how to follow and complete directions in a sewing pattern.  We were creating a curriculum that would enable us to teach from a distance, one story and social packet at a time. Grey provides an in depth example while writing about a student named Eric in The Discovery of Social Stories (1990-1992).

The three principles of the Social Story philosophy that guide the development of each Story.

  1. Abandon all assumptions.
  2. Recognize that the social impairment in autism is shared, with mistakes made on all sides of the social equation.
  3. When Typical people interact with people with autism, both perspectives are equally valid and deserving of respect.

While embracing the practice of taking the unique perspectives of ourselves and those with whom we are working into account, a musical story also embraces the impact of music upon the brain. An article published in Autism Research revealed that “functional fronto-temporal connectivity, disrupted during spoken-word perception, was preserved during sung-word listening in ASD, suggesting alternate mechanisms of speech and music processing in ASD.” If you’re a visual learner, the images in this article, particularly the one on page 6, may give you a better idea of these implications. According to this research, singing rather than speaking, enhances neural activity.

At Music Therapy Services of Portland, we want to coach parents, caretakers and allied health professionals working with ASD on how to create a musical story. Our workshop will walk you through the process of creating a social story from your child’s perspective.

We will take you through the three primary steps involved in creating a musical story. Come with a challenge in mind that you’d like to help your child overcome through a musical story. Some examples for inspiration:

  • Going to the bathroom independently
  • Eating lunch at school
  • Taking a shower
  • Getting dressed in the morning
  • Getting ready for bed

Eventbrite - Workshop: Creating Musical Stories for ASD

The next workshop is on March 15th from 6-8pm for $25. Register here or contact us with any questions:, 971-221-7144. We are offering 20% off for a group of 3 or more. Please contact us for the discount code.

Angie Kopshy, MM, MT-BC
Angie Kopshy, MM, MT-BC

Angie Kopshy, MM, MT-BC, is a board-certified music therapist and founder of Big Sky Music Therapy. Upon completion of her Master’s in Music from Boise State University, Angie returned to Portland to study music therapy. Before moving to Montana, her work included a private practice that incorporated neurologic music therapy techniques, the supervision of practicum students and interns and a teaching position at Pacific University. Angie is also a singer/songwriter with the band, Stoneface Honey.

autism, music, music therapy, music therapy for autism, singing, special needs

Summer Series II: Music therapy for two children with autism: Give the scripter a mic & a mirror!

GrahamToday I want to introduce you to Graham. Although Graham is a child of many gifts, one of his most immediately apparent to me was his ability to regurgitate a script of something he watched on television or youtube. Sometimes I refer to someone with this skill as a scripter. So what happens when you put a scripter in front of a mirror with a microphone?

Graham definitely seized the opportunity to act out the characters from one of his favorite shows. But then he surprised me by turning the experience into an interview. He held the microphone and I said my name, then he took the microphone and repeated me. Then I said, “Hello, Graham,” and he repeated that. Then finally, “My name is Angie,” followed by Graham saying, “My name is Graham!” In this video, you can see snippets of that followed by Graham singing the next phrase of The Balloon Song.

If you have the chance to plant your child in front of a mirror with a microphone, see what happens. Try to guide an interview type feel – going back and forth with the microphone and transforming the scripting into dialogue with turn taking.

Angie Kopshy, MAngie KopshyM, MT-BC

Music Therapy Services of Portland

autism, music therapy, music therapy for autism, neurologic music therapy, special needs

Possible opportunities for Oregon autism families

There are a few great opportunities that I wanted to share. Thank you to the families and agencies who shared these events with us.

Angie Kopshy

Angie Kopshy, MM, MT-BC


Music Therapy Services of Portland