Music Therapy Can Help Children With Autism
Music therapy has been used in a number of different contexts and has been helpful to people in various ways. Music stimulates both hemispheres of the brain. New research now shows the effects music therapy can have on children with autism.

The Benefits of Music Therapy

Research shows that, because it stimulates both brain hemispheres, therapists can use music to help children with autism with their cognitive activity. Music therapy can assist in building self-awareness and improving social relationships.

Music can encourage communicative and social behaviors in children with autism. If we look at an orchestra, we see that each individual musician is interacting alone with their instrument, but they are also working together with other musicians to create a piece of music. When a child with autism is given an instrument, they may bond with it individually. However, they will also learn about making music with others, which can lead to social bonding. Children can open up to others by interacting with music.

Music can also encourage a better understanding of words and actions for children with autism. An example of this would be listening to a song about washing your hands and learning how to do this activity through the music. In addition, small groups of children listening to music together can break down some social barriers children with autism face. They may feel more comfortable expressing themselves through music with others. Dancing to music can help stimulate the sensory system and enhance fine motor skills. It can also help with body awareness.

There are a number of health effects that can also make music therapy helpful for children with autism. Music has been shown to relieve anxiety and the symptoms of depression. It also aids in muscle relaxation and reduces tension in the body. When a child with autism becomes overwhelmed in a situation, music can be used to help center them.

If you or a loved one has a mental disability and has been arrested or convicted of a crime, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side. Elizabeth Kelley specializes in representing individuals with mental disabilities. To schedule a consultation, call (509) 991-7058.
For More Information About Representing People With Autism Spectrum Disorders

The reason for compiling the expert opinions in Representing People with Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Practical Guide for Criminal Defense Lawyers is two-fold: first, there is a growing recognition that people with ASD are involved in the criminal justice system and need vigorous, informed advocacy; and two, that there is a need for practical, easily digestible information for lawyers.
If you are a criminal defense lawyer, it is inevitable that you are going to represent someone on the Autism Spectrum. Indeed, the Center for Disease Control estimates that one in 59 children are on the spectrum. And because Autism is a lifelong condition, these children will become adults on the spectrum.

But what is Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), how will you recognize it in a client, why is it relevant to the criminal justice system, and why do people with ASD get ensnared in the criminal justice system?
Elizabeth Kelley
Criminal Defense Attorney
Elizabeth Kelley is a criminal defense lawyer with a nationwide practice specializing in representing people with mental disabilities. She is the co-chair of The Arc's National Center for Criminal Justice and Disability, serves on the American Bar Association’s Commission on Disability Rights, Criminal Justice Section Council, and Editorial Board of the Criminal Justice Magazine Learn more.
Additional Resources
Ernie and Joe: Crisis Cops Q&A Discussion
Emmy award-winning HBO documentary ERNIE & JOE: CRISIS COPS takes audiences on a journey with two Texas police officers who are helping to change the way police respond to mental health calls. The officers, formerly key members of the San Antonio Police Department’s Mental Health Unit, will join prosecutors and defense attorneys to discuss current improvements and challenges in law enforcement response to people in crisis. For more information, please go to:
A full pandemic recovery demands mental health support
Workers are returning to offices, and children are filing into classrooms. Restaurants, movie theaters and hair salons are opening their doors. The CDC recently declared that the vaccinated can forgo wearing a mask inside as well as outside. A recovery is on the horizon, with a new and deeper reckoning with the centrality of mental health.

Nearly everyone, after the long months of uncertainty and trauma, has a different notion of who they are and what they need. The middle-class professional mother who put her career on hold to manage childcare when schools closed is in a different place than the essential worker who buried three relatives, lost his job, and was not able to socially distance because he shared a one-bedroom apartment with five people.
The Truth About Deinstitutionalization
When a person has a mental-health crisis in America, it is almost always law enforcement—not a therapist, social worker, or psychiatrist—who responds to the 911 call. But most officers aren’t adequately trained to deal with mental-health emergencies. And while laws intended to protect civil liberties make it exceedingly difficult to hospitalize people against their will, it is remarkably easy to arrest them.
Pervis Payne: Petition argues ineligibility for death penalty due to intellectual disability
Shortly after Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee signed into law a new measure creating a legislative mechanism to allow death row inmates to appeal their sentences on grounds of intellectual disability, Pervis Payne's attorneys have filed a new petition in his case.

The petition, filed Wednesday in Shelby County Criminal Court, argues that Payne is ineligible for the death penalty due to his intellectual disability. 
Adopted From China. Killed In The Poconos.
Christian J. Hall stood precariously on the ledge of a highway overpass near Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, looking down at the cars passing beneath him. It was the early afternoon of Dec. 30, 2020, a cold, windy day.

Christian had called 911 anonymously, reporting “a possible suicider.” Pennsylvania State Police troopers arrived at the scene and formed a wide perimeter around the 19-year-old with their vehicles, behind which armed troopers urged him to put down the gun he was holding and talk it out.

For an hour and a half, the troopers tried to deescalate the situation, but Christian mostly stood or sat on the pavement, disengaged, nearly motionless. Very little happened for a long time. Christian put on a coat. He smoked. The troopers repeated their commands over and over: Put down the gun, come over, let’s talk. “I promise no one will hurt you,” a trooper said. “You have my word.”
Opinion: Additional mental health training would benefit both police officers and the people they serve and protect
Every day in my work, I am pained to witness the indignities that our neighbors experiencing homelessness endure.

With so few public restrooms available and so many without a home, our neighbors are forced to relieve themselves on the streets. What choice do they have?

Moreover, mental health resources in the community are in short supply, leaving neighbors with severe mental illness to wander through the streets, faced with confusion and the daily traumas of unsheltered life, their ragged clothing and lack of shoes a clear indication that things are not okay.
Representing People with Mental Disabilities: A Practical Guide for Criminal Defense Lawyers

Representing People with Mental Disabilities: A Practical Guide for Criminal Defense Lawyers, was edited by Elizabeth Kelley. It contains chapters devoted to a variety of issues confronted by people with mental disabilities in the criminal-justice system, such as:

  • Competency
  • Sanity
  • Malingering
  • Neuroscience
  • Jail and Prison Conditions
Representing People with Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Practical Guide for Criminal Defense Lawyers

Elizabeth's book titled Representing People with Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Practical Guide for Criminal Defense Lawyers was released by the American Bar Association. Topics include:

  • Co-Occurring Disorders
  • Testing
  • Competency
  • Risk of Violence
  • Mitigation.