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As a music therapist at the STAR Center, I have had the privilege of going to Jackson Christian School’s ABLE program. ABLE stands for “Achieve Beyond Limited Expectations.” This program provides transitional learning opportunities for young adults with developmental/intellectual disabilities between the ages of 18-24. Over the course of the 2022/2023 schoolyear, music therapy has focused on communication, social, emotional, and life skill goals. These goals were targeted through a variety of interventions.

One such intervention focused on songwriting. I wanted to provide the students with a sense of identity related to their program of study. I felt that a class song would be the perfect way to solidify their sense of identify. The songwriting process took approximately two sessions.  Those two sessions were very enjoyable because of how cooperative and open the students were. For the first verse, I asked the students to identify things that were hard for them to do. Moving on from that concept, verse two focused on things that they could do very well. It was wonderful to hear their responses! Finally, the chorus described more specific qualities and skills with which they identified. The song came together so seamlessly and beautifully.

After completion, it was apparent that the song was something special and needed to be shared!  Therefore, all ABLE students and teachers came one April morning to the STAR Center and recorded their song. What a great time it was!  Other STAR staff and interns enjoyed helping with the process as well. The other music therapist, Gabrielle Barton, even helped by singing on the recording of their song. The finished product can be heard by clicking on the link below. Furthermore, this song is now something that they proudly sing each time we come together for music therapy. It is my hope that they carry this song with them the rest of their lives and that they always remember they are ABLE!


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