The disabled adult who got out of his wheelchair for music

Cedarwood provides a range of activities to cater to individuals with a variety of disabilities and needs. The below case study shows how Skoog helped one adult with learning disabilities.

Robert has physical disabilities which prevent him from walking without assistance and has very limited communication skills. Robert can use his limbs to move on the floor from a seated position. He communicates using noises and gestures and likes to explore objects and people through touch. Robert responds to instruction erratically with his body and voice but understands direction when spoken or communicated to using Makaton.

To encourage Robert to leave his wheelchair, the Skoog was placed on the floor. Robert favored the drum and vocal-sample sounds and seemed pleased to be making music. At times, he smiled, laughed, rolled his sleeves up and moved his head in a dance-like manner to indicate that he was enjoying using the Skoog. In the following weeks, I introduced real instruments such as a guitar (which I played) along with drums, percussion, and glockenspiels.

Robert seemed to enjoy using beaters and drumsticks and was encouraged to use these to hit the Skoog. This led to more interaction with both the Skoog and other instruments. However, I limited beater and drumstick usage to the first half of the session and, over the course of each meeting, I was able to slowly reduce sensitivity on the Skoog software as Robert became more confident in his ability.

Music can have lots of benefits from concentration to listening to therapeutic benefits…relaxation, working with musical instruments, good expression of how people are feeling or not feeling and, depending on the mood of the service users we work with, we tailor the music to meet their needs.’ (Cedarwood, 2010)

Over the course of the project, the group played along with backing tracks of different styles, tempos, and timbres and I was able to discover which tracks stimulated each group member. Music was chosen to reflect the moods of the service users and direct activities. For example, when the group had a lot of energy, I allowed them to play loud or fast music. If I wanted to focus the group, I would trigger a slower or gentler track.

Robert usually needed encouragement to play the Skoog but he enjoyed his name being sung. Therefore, I recorded Robert’s verbalizations and me singing his name so these sounds could be activated using the Skoog’s built-in sampler. Robert reacted to both sounds positively and began to rapidly tap the Skoog’s panels unprompted. Whenever these sounds were assigned to the Skoog, Robert would immediately play it along to a backing track or The Name Song while smiling and laughing.

The case studies demonstrate that the Skoog can benefit a range of service users with a variety of disabilities. It was also found that all the participants were able to use the Skoog regardless of how severe or complex their needs.

How can I have a go?

  • Get in touch with Skoogmusic here.