Today I learned that the father of a very special student passed away over the weekend. This young man is incredibly intelligent and witty, but is limited in his ability to communicate due to autism. He is very musical and, over the years I have worked with him, we have shared some very special moments. I worked with this student today and I am convinced I saw the grief in his eyes. We were in a group setting, so I chose to not openly address my observations, but I do believe that music therapy may play an important role in acknowledging and processing his loss.
This is a situation in which I do not have much experience. Therefore, I ask you – my fellow music therapists, parents, and treatment team members – what methods have you found to be successful in helping an individual with autism to express, understand, and/or process grief?