Rethinking Behavioral Disorders with Peggy Schaefer
Inclusive Education Project (IEP) Podcast · 22 minutes ·

Rethinking Behavioral Disorders with Peggy Schaefer

Today’s show explores the idea that we have it all wrong when it comes to behavioral disorders. From the intersection of neuroscience and music comes the theory that what we have classified as behavior issues are really movement disorders. The body’s response to music and rhythm holds the key. Join us for a look at this fascinating work!
Peggy Schaefer is a board-certified Neurological Music Therapist (NMT), and her work focuses on how the brain processes rhythm and applies it to non-musical interventions. She studied with Dr. Michael Thaut at Colorado State University, which is where this research-based approach originated. The application has been widely used with patients with Parkinson’s disease and has been proven effective as medication. Peggy’s past work has been with US service members in neurological rehab, stroke patients, Parkinson’s patients, and those with traumatic brain injuries. As she noticed marked similarities in neurodegenerative patients and those with neurodevelopmental issues, she knew that this approach would be helpful for people on the autism spectrum.  
Show Highlights:
Why Peggy believes that the “behavioral disorder” label is a way to catch those who can’t be defined otherwise
The shocking study results that 1 in 5 people diagnosed with autism will develop Parkinson’s disease
How most solutions for behavioral issues fall short because they make the assumption that the behavior is a person’s choice–in reality, it’s a movement disorder
How Peggy takes a holistic approach to behavior by asking, “What is the behavior trying to communicate?”
Why Peggy launched her school, The I’mperfect Place, based on a theory of disability rights from the 1980s
Why the presumption of confidence is the least dangerous assumption to make
Why we are failing many students by making behavior modifications that challenge them to not be who they are
How the mind-body connection plays into how students learn
Peggy shares a feel-good story about a student’s progress


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