Special Needs

I have designed and taught piano and music programs for children and adults with special needs including learning and developmental disabilities for 15+ years.  Music speaks to us all and helping students with special needs bring out their music is a particular joy and passion for me.

A music program for children and adults with special needs including Autism Spectrum Disorder and ADHD can be designed to suit each student’s individual learning process.

The components of the program include:

  • Piano keyboard skills
  • Rhythm
  • Singing
  • Movement

After an assessment consisting of verbal, music and behavior skills is completed during the first lesson, a program will be designed to meet each student’s particular needs and goals.  Parental involvement is important with this program.

Children as young as 3 years old have participated in this program and thrived and some of my students have been students at Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore.  Parents have found that music instruction has helped their children learn new social skills, develop hand and eye coordination, promote self-esteem and discover something they love to do.

“When our four year old son with autism, James, started taking piano lessons from Shirley, he was non-verbal and could barely sit still for a few seconds. With great patience and years of teaching experience, Shirley introduced music to James through songs and movements that sparked his interest. Months later before he could even speak, James began to read and play music with Shirley’s instructions!

Shirley believed and cultivated James’ musical talent from the very beginning. After nearly four years of weekly piano lessons from Shirley, James performed outstandingly well in several recitals. We have since relocated to the Midwest. But the initial music instruction from Shirley has built a strong foundation for James to continue expressing himself through music despite his language deficits. To this date, we have yet to find another music teacher who could measure up to Shirley’s patience, experience, dedication, and most of all, belief in the hidden talent of her students!” – Joy J., MS, BCBA (Board Certified Behavior Analyst) Parent now in Minnesota