Christine Cairns, the wife of John Lubbock, founded the charity Music For Autism fourteen years ago when their youngest son was diagnosed with autism. Since then the charity has enabled members of the Orchestra of St John’s to give interactive concerts to 45,000 children and 30,000 carers and teachers at special schools all over the UK. There is a flourishing branch in the USA, and MFA International has been set up to take the charity’s work to other countries starting in Abu Dhabi and Hong Kong.
The partnership between OSJ and MFA is unique, as is the fact that the artistic director of the orchestra takes part in every single concert the charity promotes in the UK. See www.musicforautism.org.uk
Alice Langtree, Special Needs consultant and member of British Council Disability Advisory Panel writes:
“Much has been written about the benefits of music for those on the autistic spectrum; the non-verbal, non-threatening nature of music providing an opportunity to connect and communicate is well rehearsed on paper.
“Those on the autistic spectrum, some with ear defenders ready in place, some rocking, flapping or making their noises to manage their stress levels came and stood, sat in the rows of chairs or the floor as seemed best to them.
“The conductor used gesture to communicate with a diffident young man who was enabled to come to the front and conduct the orchestra. The young man’s self esteem was growing in ‘leaps and bounds’ as he performed ever more dramatic physical ‘conductor gestures’, responding sensitively and accurately to the ethos and timing of the music. His posture straightened, his shoulders loosened and his grin brought a moment of sheer joy to those who have spent long hours alongside him helping him to connect with the world around.
“In over 20 years of working alongside such young people at different events I have never before witnessed something that benefitted each individual child no matter how locked into their own worlds.”