Berkshire Hills Music Academy is pleased to announce our 2015 Graduation Speaker and one of the recipients of our Visionary Award: Dr. Stephen Shore.
Dr. Shore is an internationally recognized expert on Autism Spectrum Disorders. He presents and consults on issues related to life on the spectrum, including education, relationships, advocacy, and disclosure. Dr. Shore is particularly focused on the importance of arts and music, and how music helps young individuals with autism to achieve gains in their self-esteem, communication, organization, and quality of life. An overarching goal for Dr. Shore is “helping persons with autism and other conditions lead fulfilling and productive lives to their greatest potential”.
Dr. Shore was diagnosed at an early age with “Atypical Development and strong autistic tendencies”, and remained nonverbal until the age of four. Rather than follow the advice of providers at the time, which was to institutionalize their son, Dr. Shore’s parents embraced him for who he was, focused on his strengths and abilities, and worked with his teachers and others in the community to find creative ways to engage and motivate Dr. Shore to learn and develop. Through their support, the support of other loved ones, friends, and professionals, and his own determination, Dr. Shore has succeeded in creating a full and vibrant life.
Dr. Shore is now a professor of special education at Adelphi University, where his work focuses on supporting individuals with ASD and other disabilities. He travels internationally to present on relevant issues related to autism in children and adults, and consults with schools and organizations to support them in implementing best practices. His written work has been published and cited in multiple books, journals, and websites, and he has written a book titled Beyond the Wall: Personal Experiences with Autism and Asperger Syndrome. He has consulted with a number of programs & agencies that serve individuals with ASD, such as the Asperger’s Association of New England and United States Autism and Asperger Association. Additionally, he gives private music lessons to children on the autism spectrum.
Music and the arts have been a constant thread throughout Dr. Shore’s life. He wrote about music’s role in his own life and the importance of music for people with autism spectrum disorders for The Art of Autism- Connecting through the arts (www.the-art-of-autism.com). Dr. Shore stated “When I was a child, music, laughter, and a conscious focus on my abilities filled our home. The radio, always tuned to classical or popular music stations, encouraged singing, movement, and playful narration. My parents, who were quite progressive for the times, defied the conventional wisdom of the mid-1960’s; that I be institutionalized. Instead, they were determined to provide me with a foundation that emphasized music, creativity, movement, sensory integration, narration, and imitation…..Their focus on awakening my spirit and abilities is what I suspect drives me to teach music to children with autism today. I believe my connection to music mirrors why many of us are involved in the arts: to give those on the autism spectrum, as well as persons viewing or enjoying their art, a greater appreciation for what it is to be human….In recent years, an explosion of popularity of the arts as interventions in autism is apparent. There is no doubt that parents and professionals who use the arts as specific and intentional tools are likely to achieve significant results in improved empathy, behaviors, and language. Music, in particular, provides an alternate means of communication.”
Dr. Shore is a person who exemplifies the vision of Berkshire Hills Music Academy, which is that we strive to create a world in which all people with intellectual disabilities are encouraged to pursue their talents, enjoy a high quality of life, and find meaningful employment. He has overcome significant obstacles to create a life full of meaning, and has taken his knowledge and passion to a worldwide audience, all in an effort to raise awareness and education for individuals with special needs. We salute the work of Dr. Shore, and look forward to welcoming him to Berkshire Hills Music Academy on May 17.
More information about Stephen Shore can be found on his website, www.autismasperger.net.