How do autistic people make, experience, and find meaning in music? And why does it matter to them that they do? These are the guiding questions put forth at the beginning of the introductory chapter, which establishes the book’s purpose, conceptual framework, and significance. The widely recognized talents and affinities for music that many autistic people exhibit have historically been a focus of therapeutic interventions aimed at ameliorating autistic symptoms. In that context, autism is regarded as a disorder and autistic people as individuals in need of treatment. In this book, however, the conventional paradigm is turned on its head, with autism reconceptualized as a viable manifestation of neurodiversity rather than a disorder rooted in pathology. The ten autistic individuals who throughout the book will speak for themselves on the place, value, and meaning of music in their lives are introduced, and both the structure and rationale for the book’s conversational approach, which is re-presentational rather than representational, are outlined.
Keywords: music therapy, ethnomusicology, representation versus re-presentation, neurodiversity, Asperger’s syndrome, autism spectrum condition (ASC), Music-Play Project (MPP), Artism Ensemble, applied ethnomusicology, disability studies
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