TAMIU Ed Students Offer Free Movement Therapy Class for Autism Community
Posted: 4/24/14

TAMIU Ed Students Offer Free Movement
Therapy Classes for Autism Spectrum Disorder

While April’s National Autism Awareness Month draws to a close, two Texas A&M International University students are leading a local effort to bring Autism Movement Therapy (AMT) to individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD).

College of Education graduate student Clarissa Riojas and undergraduate Tania Ramos recently undertook a certification class in AMT and are making available a series of special classes, free of charge.

The free classes, “Autism and Dance,” will be offered at 6-7 p.m. on Fridays and from 2-3 p.m. on Saturdays April 25-May 10 in the TAMIU Center for the Fine and Performing Arts (CFPA) Dance Studio, room 123.  They are being offered as part of the students’ Honor Thesis Project.

Riojas said the goal is simple:  Increase social interaction and sensory integration.

“We provide a music and movement program for individuals with autism so that they can be included in their communities and have access to the arts. By working with dance and music, we support and assist with sensory integration and behavioral challenges and provide a natural setting for social skills and increased interaction with peers,” Rojas explained.

Ramos was initially exposed to movement therapy for disabled students during a TAMIU Study Abroad trip to Barcelona, Spain.  She joined TAMIU College of Education associate professor Dr. Diana Linn and studied with Anna Agusti in classes to help parents of Barcelona’s special needs children with any kind of disability to improve their lives through dance.  Riojas will participate in a Spain Study Abroad trip this summer.

TAMIU College of Education associate professor, Dr. Candace Baker, who has advised both students, said AMT research is promising.

“This is considered the first therapy designed for individuals with autism that combines movement and music and believed one of the most effective ways of stimulating communication between the left and right hemispheres of the brain…AMT can literally awaken the brain through a structured and fun dance therapy,” Dr. Baker observed.

For additional information on the free classes, contact Rojas at clarissa.riojas@dusty.tamiu.edu or Ramos at tania.ramos@dusty.tamiu.edu

Journalists who need additional information or help with media requests and interviews should contact the Office of Public Relations, Marketing and Information Services at prmis@tamiu.edu