Synchrony is a music therapy platform that helps parents and children with autism to develop intimacy and promote understanding of each other through improvised music play.
Designed to sound harmonious regardless of musical ability, it facilitates a mutually enjoyable music making process. Parent and child can both coexist in a shared space, communicate nonverbally through music, and engage in interpersonal play while working towards therapeutic goals.
While many therapeutic initiatives focus on intervention for the child, interviews with parents revealed that they go through an equally tough time as well, one full of stress, frustration and social pressure.
Synchrony is unique in its holistic approach of being able to balance the needs of both parent and child on a single platform by using music creation to create a safe, nonverbal social space that promotes exchanges of feelings and emotions (shared affect). By opening up this channel for social interaction, Synchrony actively promotes learning and discovery, helping parents accelerate into a state of acceptance of themselves and their child.
What used to be a long, advanced process that required skilled training is now at a level accessible enough for families to use at home with minimal training in music or psychology.
Kenneth Tay, Art Center College of Design
An emotional barrier exists between parents and children with autism. This lack of response can cause dejection for the parent, creating a gap that degrades interactions over time into short, functional transactions.
Music therapists can help bridge that gap through music improvisation with the child – a process that simulates mother and infant social play. However, therapy sessions usually only occur an hour a week, which is insufficient for children in early childhood development.
Parents have to continue the sessions at home and incorporate it into a daily routine in order to maximize its full benefits. However, the technical nature of playing a musical instrument, especially with music improvisation, creates a barrier that often intimidates parents from doing so.
Synchrony eliminates that technical barrier using an approachable and universally understood form language of a hand drum. Its 20 keys are tuned to the pentatonic scale, which, having no dissonant intervals, allows any combination of keys to sound good together, enabling parent and child to create harmonious melodies regardless of musical ability.
The soft, press-able silicone skin responses to the user’s touch by producing volume and resonance according to the pressure applied and the duration pressed. This works to reduce tactile defensiveness (hypersensitivity to touch/tactile input) in the child by incorporating touch into the structural framework of music creation. The pleasurable multi-sensory experience guides and reorganizes the child’s sensory information toward functionally adaptive interpretations.
Connected via low-energy Bluetooth, the complimenting smartphone app allows parent, therapist or child to toggle between a selection of sounds according to their preference or mood. It also records play sessions and facilitates goal coordination between parent and therapist.
The interaction design of Synchrony, while simple and easy to understand, is versatile enough to be used and configured by music therapists in a variety of therapeutic settings, such as using Synchrony to develop fine and gross motor skills through the pressing of keys or thumping on the skin of the instrument. This versatility is the key difference that Synchrony has from existing products or instruments in the market, which are either too complex as they are modeled on existing instruments, or too simplified that they have low replay value.
Benefits to music therapist: Helps therapists build capacity within parents to sustain music intervention with their child at the conclusion of their professional services.
Benefits to child: Ensures continued intervention at home, maximizing benefits and expediting progression towards therapeutic goals.
Benefits to parent: Increases engagement by lowering technical barriers to participation. Also provides an outlet to connect and communicate with their child in way would not happen under normal circumstances.
The object itself- this vessel for communication with autistic children- the vessel itself is calming.
It's an absolutely beautiful form in terms of material and proportion. The way that the digital element was integrated nicely....The historical drum like semantic and the new digital semantic has got bookends of history in there...It also has a strong social component.
visually pleasing and effective at facilitating interaction