For Those with ASD: Music is Indeed a Powerful Language

Greek, Latin, Chinese, and Music — what do they all have in common? They’re all languages! Yes — music is also a language! Unlike Greek, Latin, and Chinese, which all convey thoughts and emotions through words, music conveys thoughts and emotions through rhythms and melodies.

Often, those with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) find it difficult to communicate verbally. There are two possible reasons for this. Firstly, our actions are all heavily guided upon our brain’s reward system. For neurotypical individuals, social interactions are rewarding. On the contrary, those with autism don’t find social interactions as rewarding as neurotypical individuals do. Their lack of motivation for social interactions is a possible explanation for why those with ASD find it harder to socially interact. Secondly, those with ASD are known to have an overactive amygdala. In essence, the amygdala is the part of the brain which is associated with the perception of emotions. The overaction of the amygdala often causes those with ASD to perceive social situations as daunting and unpredictable. The unpredictability of social situations is another possible explanation for why those with autism find it challenging to communicate verbally.

The thought of face-to-face communication sometimes pulls those with ASD apart from one another. However, music is a special language that draws them together. For example, drumming in large groups is a way of expressing happiness to other people. I have been facilitating drumming sessions with large groups of ASD students, and I was surprised at how the power of music can bring them so close together. This shows how the sound of the drum can at times be an extremely effective medium of communication. There is a saying that “a picture is worth a thousand words.” Now, I believe that for those with autism, a single note of music is indeed more powerful than a thousand spoken words.

Additional Information for Reference:

  1. Stavropoulos, Katherine K.M. K.M. “Autism and the Brain: What Does the Research Say?” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 7 Mar. 2018,
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