“Harmonizing hearts: empowering Ukrainian autistic youth through music”: Iryna Sergienko shares her experience with young people in Germany

On June 1, 2023, on International Children’s Day, Iryna Sergienko, Director of the “Child with Future”, became a speaker at the webinar “Harmonizing Hearts: Empowering Ukrainian youth with autism through music”. The online event was devoted to the study of music as a tool to help and resource for coping with stress and anxiety during military actions in Ukraine. The event was organized by the youth organization Ukrainian Youth Spectrum.

The topic of the webinar was not chosen by chance, as the whole world is now trying to help Ukraine not only with the most modern weapons and equipment but also with comfort and psychological resources, which are no less critical in the time of the most terrible challenge in the history of our country. The destruction of homes, unstable socio-political climate, separation from loved ones, the transformation of special educational institutions into food warehouses, incessant noise – all these extremely difficult challenges are quite difficult for people outside the spectrum, not to mention autistic people.

The main goal of the event is to analyze and discuss how music, from a scientific and research-based perspective, can comfort some people and shed light on the increased challenges for Ukrainian youth with autism and their families during the war, as well as ways to help.

What is the extent of the difficulties and what can we do?
What are the needs of neurodivergent people that our society should meet?
To what extent is music therapy a resource that can be promoted in this direction?

German youth, schoolchildren, organizers, and speaker Iryna Sergienko tried to find answers to all these and other questions at the webinar.

“Music is usually rarely talked about, but it has a positive impact on everyone, not just autistic people. I remember how at an inclusive concert by Yevhen Khmara, one child hugged his mother for the first time. Music therapy can give children a new way to express themselves and gain new skills. Moreover, the music goes well with other treatments and processes.
We also discussed creating conditions for autistic children to feel better in the environment of normative peers. And we came to the conclusion that inclusion is not only about preparing an autistic person for life in society but also about a society that is ready to take steps towards them, to help and support them when they are in trouble,” says Iryna Serhienko.