Specialist teacher for children with Autism
Manor Mead School, United Kingdom
What role does music play in your work?
"Music and singing plays a
huge and indispensable role in my day! Songs create a
completely different atmosphere and the great thing about a
great tune is you can change the words to fit the situation-
so even boring old instructions to tidy up become fun. Mary Poppins had it sussed! In my school we have songs for every
part of the day- right from hello in the morning, to drinks
and dinner time and right through to the afternoon when we
say goodbye. They alert the children to a change, to a
beginning and to something new. The children associate each
song with an activity and this helps them cope with a world
that can be very unpredictable."
What is the one
thing you want people to know about singing with young
"They don’t care that you
can’t sing. I cannot carry a tune but wow- my children carry
it for me! You just have to have fun with it. "
When I Hear the
About the Song: A wonderful, catchy tune that sums up
exactly what happens when you hear a favorite song- we tap,
we clap, we sway!
Personal Comment: This is
the staple introduction to my music lesson. Routine and
predictability make transitions for children with autism
that little less daunting so although what they are learning
in the music lesson must change, they can rely on the
beginning being something they know and love. There are the
obvious actions that go along with it and, with the help of
Myrtle the Turtle (my trusty puppet sidekick), it is the
perfect introduction to the lesson.
2. We’re Finished
About the Song: As mentioned, transitions are tricky
for a lot of children with Autism- particularly if it marks
the end of something they are really enjoying. Having a
warning that an activity is going to end and singing this
song once we’ve tidied up has made transitions much easier
(for them and the adults!)
Personal Comment: There are very few ‘Finished’ songs
that make the grade with my children. When I asked Nancy if
she could come up with one, she delivered!
Green Speckled Frogs
About the Song: One of the best number rhymes out there-
it is so zany and fun.
Personal Comment: This song appeals to the vast range
of abilities of children and something that children with or
without special needs can sing and enjoy together.
4.The Alphabet Song
About the Song: One of the songs that my children
seem to learn by rote and then one day WOW! They realize
that it matches a letter and this alphabet order is always
the same- great for children who like predictability!
Personal Comment: A song that children seem to learn
through osmosis! Everyone knows it and everyone has a
different slant on the on the L,M,N,O,P bit. A then there’s
the last letter- is it zed or zee… Some very funny moments
in my class!
5. London Bridge is
About the Song: The can be used for literally ANY
situation when you change the words. It is the most
versatile tune ever.
Personal Comment: If ever I’m stuck for a song about
something, inevitably this is the tune that I use: ‘Now it’s
time to wash our hands, wash our hands, wash our hands’ or ‘
Get your shoes and get your socks, shoes and socks, shoes
and socks’ and so on and so forth. Brilliant!