Playing Music Helps Cure Autism

Playing piano has helped young Josh Tutin outgrow his autism symptoms.

Ultimate Guitar

When he was three years old, Josh Tutin from Bristol, UK was diagnosed with a severe autism which led doctors to conclusion that he will likely never go to a regular school. A year later, his mother Renitha read that playing a musical instrument might help, so she started giving Josh piano lessons.

With a lot of hard work, Josh is now a happy 10-year-old who goes to a regular school and loves playing piano, which apparently had a role in the improvement of his condition.

Latest researches have recently indicated that children can outgrow their autism symptoms, and it seems that little Josh is a good example. But doctors also stress that it is impossible to fully outgrow autism, with even Josh's mother pointing out that it is a condition for life.

"Children don't grow out of being autistic, but some can learn to live with it. In Josh's case it has taken a huge amount of hard work to get us to where we are now and he still has support with his lessons."

Psychology professor Richard Hastings from Bangor University says that is is "misleading" to suggest that this proves as evidence, but finds the new studies "interesting".

"You can never say never because we don't completely understand the nature of autism. At the moment it is still very unclear why it happens, and until you can be clear about that, it is hard to work out whether 'recovery' might be possible", the professor tells Daily Mirror.

Although no cure is still found, the situation has given all the affected families and individuals a glimpse of hope for better days to come.

So what are your opinions on this one? Post your thoughts in the comments section below.

57 comments sorted by best / new / date

    I grew up with a close friend of mine being autistic, and music helped him through school immensely. Helped him focus, and just overall helped relieve the stress of school. So I wouldn't find this story "misleading" at all.
    Well it might not be representative of all autistic kids. Certainly it might help with some of them, but several isolated cases don't necessarily imply it can be used as widespread form of treatment At least, that's what I think he meant by "misleading"
    Personally I'm on the spectrum and I can vouch that without music I wouldn't be able to relate to other people the way I can now, there's the odd soul who doesn't get anything from music but for the majority of people and obviously anyone on this site knows of the relief and connectivity it provides. For us aspies socializing is often tiring, frustrating, and ultimately unfulfilling, but at least for me music provides an amazing nearly effortless form of socially approved emotional expression.
    I'm the exact same, my friend. I honestly don't know where I'd be without music. I never would have considered public performance, but music allows you to channel yourself in a way that can give anyone confidence.
    This is anecdotal evidence. One case doesn't prove that it works, since there are often other factors involved. With that said, music is such a good thing to be involved in, that it certainly not a bad idea for autistic children to try it. They just don't want someone to try it out and get angry if it doesn't end up helping them cope.
    Improvement or coping =/= curing. Good article otherwise. Music is amazing in that it can so profoundly affect such a broad spectrum of people and really improve quality of life and health. Now if only we could get schools to stop cutting its funding left and right...
    What illness doesn't music cure?
    The fact that its even refered to as an illness makes me feel like a mutant in the X-men universe, oh if only you could know of the powers we wield (you tell me the ability to focus on a single subject for hours on end without getting distracted isn't a power, hunger pangs or the strong smell of smoke isn't stopping me from learning that ****ing solo). We're quick to label differences in thinking as mental problems but when's the last time an average "normal" person made a revolutionary breakthrough in music or science?
    All children should have the opportunity to play musical instruments. Like any creative endeavor it should be encouraged. Playing and understanding music, especially at an early age, helps with critical thinking, creativity, confidence... there are just so many benefits...
    I'd love to agree with this, but there's always a negative to a positive. I've met quite a few musician's who have been trained in both theory and playing years before I started (Since they were around 8-10 years old, I started at 12) and some of them turned out as good people but the others turned out incredibly shrewd. I met a girl in college, who oddly enough had Autism too (Music also helped her), who was one of these shrewd people. I remember her saying something like 'If you don't learn how to read a score really well and don't bother with theory then you're a disgrace to music' which is a little... far, maybe. Some of the other 'shrewd' one's said similar things. I agree, in somewhat way but a disgrace is a little silly to say really. Not to mention the fact that a lot of the guitarist's in my class are really pretentious and condemn any tuning that isn't E Standard even though music they listen to and the style they create is often played in alternate tunings. In some aspects, I agree with all children having the opportunity to learn an instrument, but it should come with perhaps... discipline? Or some way to stop them getting older and looking down on people for not knowing theory because some people just don't grasp theory all that well and find it too hard and give up. I'm not trying to say everyone would turn out like these people, I think it'd be better in fact, but it's good to make sure with the learning there is some form of rules/code/etc to go by.
    I'm on the autistic spectrum and taking up guitar was one of the best things I ever did. It gave me a focus and being around other musicians vastly helped me improve my social skills. I dislike however some of the phrasing in the article. I don't want "cured".
    Very glad to hear it's been of help to you! I have studied in a music therapy program, and a major area of application we have learned has been with the autism spectrum. In most cases it seems to be quite helpful, and it's going to become a much bigger thing in the future. I think the main reason people use words like "cured" in this context, is that they are completely ignorant to what the autism spectrum actually is and what it's like to experience it.
    Please fix the headline. It helps treat, not cure. But pedantics aside, this is really cool. A good friend of mine has autism. I used to go to his house every weekend and dive headfirst into music, so this story hits home. Cool stuff.
    Well, being autistic myself, I can say music has been a help. I wouldn't say it's the only thing that have helped me adapt, but it's been a big help. You don't even have to be an expert or anything, but you have to think outside the box, and in many ways, take charge of a project, which can often be hard with some forms of autism. Especially writing music, and learning that there's no complete "right or wrong" - there's tools and guidelines, but all in all, it comes down to your own opinion how it's supposed to sound.
    One of my older brothers is autistic, but he has no interest in playing musical instruments. I remember trying to teach him guitar when we were younger and he couldn't get the concept of changing postitions to do different chords. He kept telling me that he 'ran out of fingers'. ...He continues to be more successful than I am at anything that isn't music to this day.
    I have aspurgers which isn't autism but it's on the autism spectrum I believe and learning guitar in 5th grade actually helped me tremendously with a lot of the symptoms. But he's deffinetely right when he says theres really no cure. I'd consider it more learning to cope with the symptoms better than just outgrowing it.
    Nero Galon
    Wasn't Michael Phelps autistic too? Getting the kids/even adults to do activities is always good for them, whether it be sports or playing instruments?
    I'm about 80% sure I fall somewhere on the spectrum, and I can say music has definitely been a huge help to me, in both helping me get through a day and clear my mind enough to focus on things.
    If you are interested in helping rehabilitate people with the aid of music, you can study Music Therapy in college. Your coursework is a combination of music classes and psychology classes with on the job experience and internships in hospitals, senior centers, etc.
    My wife is a board certified music therapist, and honestly it's the coolest job in the world. I hear stories every day about the healing power of music and the strides that her clients take (a majority of which are on the autism spectrum).
    Autism is still vastly misunderstood. Varg Vikernes' wife, Marie Cachet (who is an idiot), did some sort of "study" on them, and basically just ended up likening them to Neanderthals, and was talking about "domesticating" them. It sounds too stupid to be true, but it's on her website.
    Everything related to them is retarded. Vikernes's music is from somewhat decent to actually good, but the message he tries to convey is absolutely stupid.
    Misleading title UG, Autism doesn't need to be cured and it shouldn't be used as an insult the way it is online. I'm on the spectrum and I found that playing music did help me become more social and more relatable to others. Even if it's Metal. Just glad musics around, I really am. Without it I wouldn't know what to do.
    What people generally don't know about Autism is that it can also negate or make it harder for some individuals to reach or reveal certain emotions. The most common negated emotions are happiness, anger and even sometimes the emotions that let you love someone else (passion, etc.) Those diagnosed with Autism are also more likely to develop depression. I used to be one to never show my emotions, I was diagnosed with Autism at age 4. Looking back to when I picked up the guitar when I was 12, I definitely know it was the best decision I ever made. I would probably be so much worse without it. Music has helped me become more social and overcome the worst parts of my depression. When it comes to the emotional negation part, I'm not sure if I have that problem. I hope I don't but I know that music will help me eventually. Music is like time, it heals all wounds.
    I'm high up on the Spectrum. I personally found playing guitar and bass helped me become more social and able to talk to people. I don't like the term cured though, I prefer treatments to over come roadblocks but nothing to "cure" what I got
    Not too sure why I was downvoted there. Sorry if I came across as an *****. Wasn't trying to be one.
    Fisheth...Damn, I accidently downvoted you when I meant to put you at even by upvoting. Sorry man.
    Fisheth...Damn, I accidently downvoted you when I meant toto put you at even by upvoting. Sorry man.
    Some people on the autistic spectrum, particularly many with asperger's syndrome, show a high aptitude for musical understanding. It's good to give autistic individuals the idea that they aren't born defective but just different, and there's nothing wrong with that. This shouldn't be thought of as a panacea for autism though and I can see why they want people not to generalise.
    I have Asperger's and to me, music is the #1 thing that helped in school. I still write my "cheat sheets" in music, for crying out loud.
    As a guitar teacher, I've seen a few students with autism really helped through playing music. It's one of the best things in the job. :')
    Wow. Apparently UG found the cure for autism. Surely this should be bigger news. -Thanks for the down vote, because I wasn't be sarcastic at all.
    this is not a huge revelation. ASD symptoms usually means a high appreciation and understanding for systems, structures, rules, measurement, etc. and a low appreciation and understanding for empathy, emotions in others, facial expressions, etc. Music is highly structured and there is a system behind it, so this is not new research by any stretch. source: my masters degree in Psychology.
    Having ASD myself I can say that music helps me focus on schoolwork, and that playing instruments helps me express myself.
    I love when I see a headline that says something can be cured and then I read the article that says it hasn't been cured. Thank you.
    ace man
    This is what lars ulrich has, right? Glad to see he's also overcome the limitations.
    The article is interesting, but highly unethical. Autism is not a disease, is a life condition, with a wide spectrum of "severeness". Also, proclaiming there's a cure for something just for the shock the headline might produce is just ****ing wrong.