Music therapy is becoming a useful tool in helping those with autism spectrum disorder

The story behind the Boston boy who yelled ‘Wow’ at a Mozart concert will make you cry

Last weekend, a story about a Boston boy’s reaction to Mozart captured the hearts of hundreds. 

According to Mass Live, 9-year-old Ronan Mattin of New Hampshire was actually attending a concert of the Handel and Hayden Society at Boston’s Symphony Hall with his grandfather, Stephen Mattin.

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After the symphony’s performance of Mozart’s “Masonic Funeral Music,” the crowd fell silent. Then came a young voice’s “Wow” from the back of the hall. The audience burst into applause.

“It was one of the most wonderful moments I’ve experienced in the concert hall,” David Snead, CEO and president of the Handel and Haydn Society, told Mass Live. The group was determined to find and meet the new fan.

On Thursday, the orchestra finally learned of Ronan’s identity.

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According to his grandfather, Ronan is on the autistic spectrum and is primarily non-verbal, he told Boston NPR station WGBH.

“I can count on one hand the number of times that [he's] spontaneously ever come out with some expression of how he's feeling,” he said.

Ronan didn’t mean to be disruptive, he added, and sometimes simply expresses himself differently than the average person. 

According to grandpa, Ronan is a huge fan of music and enjoys trips to Boston’s Museum of Science and Museum of Fine Arts. The pair’s planning to accept an invitation to meet the Handel and Haydn Society directors soon.

“It’s a common trait in many people with autism, that they have a connection to music,” Susan Stensland, Georgia Symphony Orchestra executive director, told The AJC back in 2016 when the GSO held its first sensory-friendly concert in Cobb County.

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“One of the reasons that music has quickly become a tool used in autism therapy is that it can stimulate both hemispheres of our brain, rather than just one,” according to Nurse Journal. “Music encourages communicative behavior and can encourage interaction with others, which is something that autistic children have great difficulty with.”

According to the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, autism spectrum disorder is a developmental disability that may cause significant social, communication and behavioral changes. While more people than ever before are being diagnosed with ASD, “it is unclear how much of this increase is due to a broader definition of ASD and better efforts in diagnosis,” the CDC notes. Recent CDC data shows about 1 in 59 children has been identified with ASD.

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