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

    (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].