The Look in Brief

Vanderbilt seeks Latino families for study on intersection between autism and music

By: - November 9, 2020 11:00 pm
(Photo: Johner Images/Getty Images)

(Photo: Johner Images/Getty Images)

Vanderbilt researchers are seeking Latino families to learn more about COVID-19’s effects on family relations and how music plays a part in the development of young children, especially those on the autism spectrum. 

COVID-19 created a unique situation for families having to deal with quarantine, and researchers believe music has been a successful coping mechanism. Keysha Martinez-Torres, a first-year Ph.D student, says this has provided an opportunity to understand Nashville’s Latino families.

“There’s not really a lot of information on Latino families and autism,” said Martinez-Torres, who seeks to adapt an ongoing Vanderbilt study for  Latino clients. Vanderbilt’s Music Cognition Lab focuses on how music factors into disabilities and the well-being of parents and children. Recently published research showed how music played a part in helping children learn and found that “they’re very responsive to rhythmic input and it could increase engagement within the child and the parent,” said Martinez-Torres. 

“We’re kind of merging the situation of COVID-19 with music,” she said. 

Studies have shown music to be highly effective in educating children with autism, and with music being more infused in Latino cultures, “there’s a real opportunity to harness that,” said Steve Camarata, a professor in Vanderbilt’s Hearing and Speech Science Department. 

One can speculate that [music] is going to be better in Latin culture than other cultures that are not as musically attuned,” he said. 

While the study is in its early stages, Martinez-Torres is asking families with children between the ages of six months to five years to fill out a questionnaire; which is also available in Spanish

For more information, families can call 615-873-0852 or email [email protected].


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Dulce Torres Guzman
Dulce Torres Guzman

Dulce has written for the Nashville Scene and Crucero News. A graduate of Middle Tennessee State University, she received the John Seigenthaler Award for Outstanding Graduate in Print Journalism in 2016. Torres Guzman is a member of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. She enjoys the outdoors and is passionate about preserving the environment and environmental issues.