Classical music ’emergency’ declared in Sweden

Demos and seminars are being held in Stockholm today about what one newspaper headlines as an ‘Emergency to act against the marginalization of classical music’.

Music tuition is being cut in multicultural schools where students and their parents reject western civilisation and values. Fewer than 30 percent of Stockholm school pupils show an interest in learning to play an instrument.

The nation’s deep music traditions have fallen off the city’s agenda.

UPDATE: Composer attacks Swedish concert hall.

The multicultural busstop

Stockholm bus stop. © Stockholm photoblog | Street photography

share this

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on google
  • “Music tuition is being cut in multicultural schools where students and their parents reject western civilisation and values.”

    That’s an extraordinarily loaded statement. Is it at all true?

      • The article does not mention anything about multiculturalism or the rejection of Western values and civilisation. The article does not either mention the 30% figure. To insinuate this is plain false and shocking.

    • It is true.
      It is also true that meanwhile about 80% of the native people of Europe reject Western civilization and values themselves. The good news for Europe is, that the value is a bit lower than in the US, where over 90% of the native citizens reject Western civilization and values.
      The highest acceptance rates for Western civilization and values are currently to be found in a few Asian countries.

    • Why do you find it extraordinary? Under Sharia all music and art are haram. Sweden, who has bent over backwards to accommodate large numbers of immigrants are slowly learning that Islamic culture is superior to theirs and must be tolerated or take the consequences. It isn’t Islamophobic to say it nor is it racist as many bigots here will call it. It’s the undeniable truth.

      • It seems to me that it is a recurring quality of poor, unfounded and unsubstantiated arguments to be labelled “undeniable” in order to mask the flaws. It is also a recurring virtue of bigotry to be labelled as “not bigotry” (in the “I am not racist, but…” style).

        So let’s see:
        1- Not all Muslims abide by the Sharia law, to the contrary. On the contrary, many countries where Islam is practised are remarkably liberal. May I remind you that there are opera houses and symphony orchestras in Iraq, Iran, Syria, the UAE, Qatar, etc. In fact, and this is only an intuition, I would suspect that migrants coming to the West might be more liberal than average, as they travel to countries which are quite liberal.
        2- Clearly you have never been in Sweden. I strongly suspect there will be riots if pork ever is banned. Examples of this are scarce, and you provide none. It is quite paradoxical that people like you tend to lambast Sweden for being simultaneously overtaken by “Sharia Law” (which definitely prioritises men over women) and by rampaging radical feminists who level every structure of society. I hope you see the contradiction here.
        3- If it is the “undeniable truth”, why don’t you provide us with clear examples? For your information, there are more practising Christians in Sweden than there are members of Muslim congregations, and over 6 times more practising Christians than practising Muslims (acc. to Wikipedia).

        Finally, Sweden has accommodated large numbers of Finnish, Polish, Yugoslav and other immigrants throughout the years. Even the king is of French origin, and the Queen is German, brought up in Brazil. So what is different about Middle Eastern Muslims? It couldn’t be that they look foreign, could it? Ultimately, we come back to the xenophobia at the root of your argument. Your “undeniable truth” is nothing more than thinly-veiled racism.

        • And clearly you haven’t been to Malmo the Muslim controlled town where ambulance services require police protection and no non-Muslim can venture without risk of violence. Swedish police say there are officially 55 no-go areas in the country where Sharia law operates and gun crime is rife.

          To continue in your leftist view of Islam is to deny the facts and your arguments that ‘all Muslims aren’t the same doesn’t work. All Muslims are bound by the Qur’an and those who appear to be against Sharia are apostates and will be dealt with when the black flag flies over Sweden.

          • Cheerful. To the same extent that everyone living in the West is rigidly bound by the Bible, I assume.

          • I’ve actually lived in Malmö, and, I can assure you, your sources are either simply lying or creating false narratives out of rare and isolated incidents. Sweden’s problems with immigrant populations have nothing to do with a sinister Muslim conspiracy to destroy Beethoven, and everything to do with a lack of adequate strategies for how to integrate them. How welcome do you think they’re really feeling if, for example, their children are forced to use separate school entrances, as per the request of non-immigrant parents? (True recent story.)
            By contrast, there’s this:
            http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/nightime-walks-and-other-pleasures-syrian-refugees-learn-to-love-smalltown-canada/article29956968/
            You know why they’re happy and well-adjusted? Because people have been decent to them. That’s mostly all it takes. Does this sound like a family who wants to behead you and pry the Mozart out of your hands? Do you really want to send them back to the horrors of a war zone? Can you live with that?
            Furthermore, as someone who reads Swedish, I can absolutely assure you that, whatever one may think of its actual arguments, the original article had absolutely nothing even remotely to do with immigration.

          • CS,
            I don’t know when you lived in Malmö, but it must have been some time ago. I don’t know if it is sharia law, but the thugs are ruling in many areas (call them “no-go” areas if you wish). The question of separate school entrances is tricky – refugee children were not forbidden to use the same entrance as Swedes, but in a common building including a primary school and other institutions the children’s parents demanded strictly separate areas for the school children and a local for activities for refugee “children” (anyone who declares to be less than 18 years old). The press surely considered a detail (separate entrances!) more interesting than the hole.

  • So Slipped Disc has now transitioned to xenophobia, insinuating that the article blames on multiculturalism and immigration a problem which the article clearly blames on Swedish society at large growing disaffected with classical music.

    The article states that the problem is mainly that: “Forskning visar att den västerländska konstmusiken helt har försvunnit ur skolans musikundervisning. Musik har blivit ett upplevelseämne med fokus på ensemblespel inom pop- och rocktraditionen. På gymnasienivå saknas de konstnärliga ämnena helt på alla program utom de estetiska.”

    “Research shows that Western classical music (“Art music”) has entirely disappeared from music education in schools. Music has become a subject to be experienced with focus on ensemble playing in the pop and rock traditions. At the Gymnasium level, there is a total absence of the artistic subjects in all programs except the aesthetic ones.”

    Later on, the article also notes that the Swedish Church has ceased in part recruiting classically trained musicians, which contributes.

    So, where is the critique of multiculturalism? Where is the alarm ringing in the face of students and parents “rejecting Western civilisation and values”? Such an insinuation without evidence is plain xenophobic, in addition to being an insult to the authors of a well-reflected, balanced, and nuanced article.

    • Well, Emil. Most of us are able to add two and two. The extreme self-loathing shown every day by Swedish politicans, artists, academics and feminists combined with the enormous resources required after their immigration has been out of control for years tells us that arts will be squeezed the coming years. The 35.000 “underage” Afghans who arrived last year has of course no interest in Strindberg, Stenhammar, Astrid Lindgren and Värmlandsvisan. As Zappa and his gang said: “We’re only in it for the money.”

      • Two things:
        1- The article does not say that. Ascribing these comments to the authors of the article is plain dishonesty.
        2- You are making assumptions without foundation. You have no evidence whatsoever to support what you say, except prejudices. Given that the aim of many immigrants is to integrate, it is a bit rich to assume they have no “interest” in Swedish culture. In fact, many of the immigrants and refugees I have met (in multiple countries) were rather of the opposite tendency. There are symphony orchestras playing Rachmaninov, Beethoven and Bach in China, Iran, Iraq, etc. There is both a symphony orchestra and an opera house in Damascus (or, rather, there were before the war – not sure they’re still playing). To assume that immigrants are not interested simply because they’re not of Western origin is simply unfounded, given the global reach of classical music.

    • Emil’s comment is very accurate. It looks like some readers add two and two and get five.

  • Quelle surprise !!
    As it cannot possibly be immigration related or the result of multicultural leftwing policies I wonder what caused this then ?

  • There is no critique of multiculturalism in the referred article. However, it is true that most music education in schools already has a pop and rock profile. It is also true that Western civilization and values are in an “all-time low” in Sweden, but the leftists are to blame in the first place, not “multicultural” people who are just playing comfortably by the leftist’s rules instead of assimilating to Western values.

    • Absolutely bravo!!! Here in Australia our conservative politicians and commentators all say that people have faith in the government’s immigration programs as long as they feel it is the government in control of it and not the migrants themselves. This is an inescapable reality. What you’ve experienced in Europe and Scandinavia is exactly the reverse and it is totally counter-intuitive. There will be a backlash; absolutely inevitable.

  • In Sweden they just launched the new ABBA museum – for them the only thing to know about music is ABBA ?

  • How many years ago and how many times did I tell all of you that the end result of Leftist policies would be to abolish classical music?

    • In any orchestra I play with, you can count the conservatives in the single digits. I’ve been to concerts where a conductor or someone makes. snide remark about a conservative politician and everyone whoops it up. The common attitude is that conservatives are too stupid to appreciate the higher art forms. Yet these very same people are always out begging for dollars to keep music alive, and it’s conservative business people they’re always hitting up.

    • Ironically, righties usually have no interest in art and music in particular.
      Can you picture Donald Trump listening to Mahler’s 9th? Monteverdi’s Poppea? or John Coltrane? Or Bob Dylan? I can’t either.

      In the future, please keep those comments for fox “news”.

      • What an outrageous stereotype!! So, the Right wing doesn’t appreciate art or music!! Condoleeza Rice was a very highly trained concert pianist. And that’s just ONE person.

        At least the Right doesn’t invite rappers into the White House for afternoon tea and pretend it’s good music!! Or flap their arms about like chickens on “Ellen” or “Oprah”.

        • Hmm, you don’t want conservatives stereotyped, and yet you stereotype liberals in the next breath. Not hypocritical at all.

      • When Richard Nixon was inaugurated, he wanted a concert for the event and got what he wanted: Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra. The contrabassoon position in the Phoenix Symphony is endowed by Republic former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Conner. The idea that righties have no interest in the classics is just wrong.

      • Putin sat through the entire opening ceremony and concert for the latest Tchaikovsky competition, so where do we count him? Maybe things are not so black and white.

  • Sweden, isn’t that the country where a Christian bishop recently suggested to stop ringing church bells because it might offend Muslims?
    So collective masochism is a treat of the Swedes?

    • Yep, that’s where you get to lie down like a dog and whimper, “don’t hit me, please”.

      Intelligent? I think not.

  • Why is it that the marginalization of classical music is coming as such a shock to everyone???

    It stands to reason that in our day of literally inexhaustible media opportunities online, entertainment outlets which provide what people want will act as a powerful drawing force on today’s youth. I mean, we used to pipe the BBC and Radio Free Europe into the Eastern Bloc countries to cause an insurrection, and it worked!

    It stands to even more reason that the most successful media will be those that reach the broadest audiences. Some might call that “dumbing down to the lowest common denominator,” but hey, that’s democracy and capitalism for you!

    30 years ago, you could only watch 2 TV stations in most of Sweden, and then only from ~6 pm to ~11:30 pm with a bit longer on weekends. There were 3 radio stations available in FM (who has ever listened to AM unless they LIKE bad sound quality?). VHS wasn’t invented yet, nor was MTV, and LPs with rock and pop music cost a fortune in Sweden (pretty much the equivalent of what $50 or so will buy you today).

    One may therefore conclude with reason that when classical music was broadcast on TV and Radio, people listened to it more or less regardless of age, since they had very few other choices. Especially in Sweden, where your neighbor’s house is 3 miles away unless you live in 3-4 major cities, not to mention stores selling records. You didn’t exactly have the option of going to the next concert hall to hear classical music – or rock music – for that matter. Under such circumstances, more people became more knowledgeable about classical music by default.

    So unless the EU countries decide to shut down the internet and cable TV and radio, young people will continue to prefer rap, rock and pop over classical. This trend is irreversible at this point of the technological revolution unless you’d prefer to move to North Korea, where Kim Jong-un can have you shot for listening to the wrong kind of music.

  • Classical music is waning everywhere because of new media and also because the institutions that present it are large, costly and too imposing. In the 19th century there were concert halls but most middle class families owned a piano or organ and held small
    intimate musicales with famous performers like Liszt or with their friends who played instruments. Mass media, like all advertising, plays to the masses. With the exception of
    highly musical cultures like Germany, Italy, Russia and Hungary, classical music is passe and less exciting than the latest pounding rock for the young. In the US, finally, there are new venues for contemporary music, and there are also now “cross-over” ensembles and recitals as well as the integration of “world music” into classical. It is the giant expensive institutions that are suffering because of the cost but also because they are not congenial, so naturally personal media are taking over. Classical music needs to be integrated into the humanities just like painting and literature. We have never tired of Shakespeare and Vermeer; the classical composers are just as important. Children who grow up in musical households will love classical music if exposed to it. Households without the classics or a piano will just vegetate culturally. No apologies are needed for playing and listening to the classics just as no apologies are needed to go to a museum and see ancient Greek art or Renaissance painting. But without exposure in the home and integration of music studies in school, classical music will continue to be regarded as “uncool”. As for Sweden, keep in mind that listening to music is forbidden by Islamic law….ANY kind of music, not just dirty rock and roll. So yes, immigration is without question one of the reasons classical music is taking a hit in Sweden. But other arts are also forbidden by Islam: representational art.
    That is why the Muslim world has contributed nothing to culture and the arts, and never will until Muslims themselves force the separation of mosque and state and pursue secular values. If this ever happens it won’t be for centuries…if ever.

    • Lorna – thank you for your well-reasoned and intelligent comment.
      What’s a smart girl like you doing on a website like this?

      • Actually it’s one of the few websites that has intelligent comments, not to mention interesting ones. Keeping up on the music world, both politics and personalities, sure
        beats TV and social media, neither of which I participate in. I studied and played piano for most of my life and am married to a composer. So music is one of the two most important things in my life, the other being Nature (I am an environmental writer and activist). The social and political ramifications of the arts (in this case music) and of the destruction of the planet are the most urgent issues for me, and for the latter I suspect there are millions who agree. At least I don’t go to bed at night and lose sleep because some singer or conductor lost an instrument or didn’t get a new contract! (PS: I am the only person in the whole world who hates intermissions during Wagner operas).

    • The muslim world has contributed nothing to culture and arts??? Have you ever even seen a mosque? Have you ever been in a muslim country? To pretend that all the “muslim world” follows Islamic Law is plain ignorance. There is no “islamic law” – there are islamic “laws”, plural. Morocco is far different from Saudi Arabia, and from Iran or Syria.

      As for contributing nothing to culture, arithmetics and numbers were transferred from the Arabs to the West. The works of Aristotle and most of the Greeks were transferred from the Arabs. To pretend otherwise is complete and utter nonsense.

      Finally, good thing that the West, this beacon of culture and art, secularised its artistic output to pursue greatness. Of course, Bach, Händel, Mozart, Messiaen, Leonardo Da Vinci, Raphael, Michelangelo, Dante, Kierkegaard, Goethe, all had the good sense to produce completely secular art with no relation to any religion whatsoever. Imagine how little great work Bach could have achieved if he had written with a religious purpose in mind.

      • Numbers were the last Muslim/Arab contribution to the world. Not much since then except exquisite ways to kill apostates and Christians.As for Roman and Greek
        philosophy and science, you have it backwards: the Arabs translated it into Arabic. Sadly they didn’t learn anything from it. You don’t have to visit the Muslim world to recognize that their nonfigurative art is merely decoration. Beautiful of course, just like the lovely tiles I have in my kitchen….nice to look at but not art. What little literature they have today is religious. Secular Muslims who writefiction usually trangress one law or another and are without exception accused of apostasy and if they are lucky enough not to be assassinated they are threatened or jailed. The existence of secular or nonobservant Muslims will forever remain invisible because anyone who speaks out becomes an apostate and is killed.So the public face of Islam is barbaric, violent, intolerant, arrogant…..and devoid of real art, science and philosophy. Only those who leave it like Rushdie can call themselves creative artists.
        if they make the mistake of not leaving the country.

        • And the folks who are in denial over any of this actually already have Stockholm Syndrome (ironically enough!).

          • Sorry, my only “syndrome” is an attention to facts, which none of you have provided so far. Send me evidence of any of these gross generalisations (from reputable sources, of course), and I will gladly cure myself of this “Stockholm syndrome”. Until then, I am inclined to judge it by what it is, that is, sustained by blind bigotry and xenophobia.

        • Again, you speak of “The Muslims” as if everyone was the same. You judge a very diverse religion with 1,7 billion adherents by some manifestations. I do not deny for a second that there are violent, radicalised fanatical Islamic groups, or officially Islamic states which use religion to oppress women and minorities, suppress free speech and other basic liberties, and justify intra-state and inter-state violence (Saudi Arabia, to some extent Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, etc.). Yet that is only a small part of the Muslim population. The largest concentration of Muslims is found in Indonesia; are you pretending that Indonesia is as radical as Saudi Arabia (hint: it’s not)? That Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria are as repressive as Afghanistan? You distort facts so much that you make a mockery of yourself, frankly.

          • If there are 1.7 billion Muslims in the world and only 1% are radical Islamists, that’s still 1.7 million. One tenth of one percent? 170,000. Keep going. Less than 20 Muslims
            destroyed the WTC and the lives of 3000 Americans. But the real point is THIS: it is the religion of ISLAM that is behind terrorism. So let’s imagine you get on a subway or bus with your small child or grandchild. There is a woman in a head to too burqa next to you.
            Ask yourself this question: how can I tell if she is a terrorist or not? Or how about all those young bearded Pakistanis and Somalis and Sudanese and Afghanis that are now
            busy rioting in Germany and Austria? Tell me and the world how you can tell the “good” ones from the bad ones, and you will become very rich and famous.

    • The muslim world has contributed nothing to culture and arts??? Have you ever even seen a mosque? Have you ever been in a muslim country? Maybe even in Spain, where you can see the Alhambra and many parts of Granada? The Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem? Also, to pretend that all the “muslim world” follows Islamic Law is plain ignorance. There is no “islamic law” – there are islamic “laws”, plural. Morocco is far different from Saudi Arabia, and from Iran or Syria. To generalise as you do displays a total ignorance of, well, concrete facts.

      As for contributing nothing to culture, arithmetics and numbers were transferred from the Arabs to the West. The works of Aristotle and most of the Greeks were transferred from the Arabs. To pretend otherwise is complete and utter nonsense. I assume the names of Averroes, Maimonides (Jewish, but lived in Muslim Spain and Egypt), or Ibn Khaldun don’t ring a bell?

      Finally, good thing that the West, this beacon of culture and art, secularised its artistic output to pursue greatness. Of course, Bach, Händel, Mozart, Messiaen, Leonardo Da Vinci, Raphael, Michelangelo, Dante, Kierkegaard, Goethe, all had the good sense to produce completely secular art with no relation to any religion whatsoever. Imagine how little great work Bach could have achieved if he had written with a religious purpose in mind. That is why there are no higher education institutions with religious affiliations in the West, with names such as University of Notre Dame, University of St Francis Xavier, University of St Andrews, Corpus Christi, Trinity, St Johns, Christ Church, St Mary’s, etc. All of the West’s artistic and cultural production happened thanks to “the separation of [church] and state and [pursuit of] secular values.” Amen to that.

      • When you get the itch to shout out this rant for the 3d time, try with Caps on, might be even more convincing.

  • And what, personally, have you contributed to the world, Lorna? The achievements of long-dead individuals with whom you perhaps share a vague geographical origin do not even begin to entitle you to say the sort of hateful, frightful things you have said here. Nothing would. The truth is that (unlike you) most people, including the vast majority of Muslims, aren’t terribly interested in ideology, fanaticism, and a fight. Most people just want to be safe and to feed their families. That SHOULD be a basic right. And when someone’s home becomes too dangerous for them, in part because our leaders have bungled their policies in that home, we should at least have the simple humanity to care for them. How would you like it if someone called you an obvious mass murderer, just because you come from the same general place as Dick Cheney? Everyone deserves to be evaluated as an individual, on his/her own merits and faults. Anything else is plain hatred and bigotry.

    • You make a VERY good point about how innocent people should not be blamed for the crimes of others. I agree. So please bring your message to the Social Justice Warriors and the BlackLivesMatter and Katy Waldman (Slate.com) and all the others who continually rave and rant about our “racist society”, how racism is “in our DNA”(Obama),
      and also sexist, imperialist. Every day our junkie media repeat everything that any frothing at the mouth idiot has to say provided it discusses our “racist society”. Anyone with a gripe, whether she has a brain or not, is given prime time to join the autistic
      chorus that sings “racist society” over and over like a broken record. And lined up on the sidelines are the guilty white liberals who don’t know what they did wrong but are quite ready to admit they did SOMETHING wrong and that they are really good people.
      And then there are people like me so say NO, we are not a racist society, and who will get vilified for being in denial! Cant win no matter what. One thing is sure: we are living in Stupidville, where the top town idiot argues with the top town clown. Whoever wins, we lose.

      • I’m not American and don’t live in America, and I’m not at all interested in getting involved with your petty grievances against lobbyists located in your country. They have nothing to do with the issue. My problem is with the horrible, hateful generalizations you, as an individual, have posted here. I agree with Stefan Solyom: your words are shameful.

        • I used “autistic” as a descriptive term and a quite accurate one, since I have had experience up close with two autistic individuals. The most obvious trait, which no one denies, is the compulsive/obsessive behavior of those with autism. This is clearly noted with those considered “high performing”. One of my contacts was with my ex son in law and the other with a carpenter and handyman who did work at our house. The liberal choir that repeats “racist society” over and over is an exact parallel. So now it’s up to you:
          call me an “ableist”. How about calling a criminal a “recipient of special attention in our
          prison system”? So as to save time and space, let me respond to those who accused me of “racism” for attacking Islamists. I recommend informing yourself by researching the thousands if not millions of first hand reports, photos, TV, public talks, journal articles, books, etc. which add up to over 240,000 attacks by Islamists since 9/11. Using the rational faculties, which seem to be in short supply, one could infer that
          Islam and Islamism are quite logical targets of criticism…and of course acts committed by Islamism are actually committed by MUSLIMS! Fancy that. Question: since when are
          religion and acts of violence and oppression prohibited? You don’t agree? Fine. You think anyone who attacks them is racist? Well, you have friends in the Muslim world that agree. Accusing someone of “Islamophobia” is the coward’s way of avoiding the
          REAL issues. Islamist violence and hatred are REAL issues. We see them every day in the enslavement of women, honor killings, child marriage, murder of dissenters and apostates, etc. So why dont you address THESE REAL ISSUES? Why take over and call me a racist?…because you don’t have any way of rebutting the charges against
          Islamism. But if you want to try, I’d be curious.

          • Wow, two whole autistic people? What a stellar sample size upon which to base sweeping generalisations. If you can’t see how utterly offensive it is to use “autistic” as a pejorative adjective in a rant, then we just may have reached bedrock.

            For someone so deeply distrustful of media, you seem awfully eager to cite them when backing your own paranoid agenda. How can you possibly equate defending unjustly accused ordinary Muslims with defending Jihadism? Surely even you can see the difference? If not, again, we’re at bedrock.

        • From Autism Today:
          Autism Speaks logo

          Home
          Families & Adults
          Research
          Advocate
          Get Involved

          Search
          Mobile Search
          Symptoms

          What Are the Symptoms of Autism?

          Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are characterized by social-interaction difficulties, communication challenges and a tendency to engage in repetitive behaviors. However, symptoms and their severity vary widely across these three core areas. Taken together, they may result in relatively mild challenges for someone on the high functioning end of the autism spectrum. For others, symptoms may be more severe, as when repetitive behaviors and lack of spoken language interfere with everyday life.

          As illustrated by the graph on the left, the basic symptoms of autism are often accompanied other medical conditions and challenges. These, too, can vary widely in severity.

          While autism is usually a life-long condition, all children and adults benefit from interventions, or therapies, that can reduce symptoms and increase skills and abilities. Although it is best to begin intervention as soon as possible, the benefits of therapy can continue throughout life.

          Social Challenges
          Communication Difficulties
          Repetitive Behaviors
          Physical and Medical Issues that may Accompany Autism

          Social Challenges

          Typically developing infants are social by nature. They gaze at faces, turn toward voices, grasp a finger and even smile by 2 to 3 months of age. By contrast, most children who develop autism have difficulty engaging in the give-and-take of everyday human interactions. By 8 to 10 months of age, many infants who go on to develop autism are showing some symptoms such as failure to respond to their names, reduced interest in people and delayed babbling. By toddlerhood, many children with autism have difficulty playing social games, don’t imitate the actions of others and prefer to play alone. They may fail to seek comfort or respond to parents’ displays of anger or affection in typical ways.

          Research suggests that children with autism are attached to their parents. However the way they express this attachment can be unusual. To parents, it may seem as if their child is disconnected. Both children and adults with autism also tend to have difficulty interpreting what others are thinking and feeling. Subtle social cures such as a smile, wave or grimace may convey little meaning. To a person who misses these social cues, a statement like “Come here!” may mean the same thing, regardless of whether the speaker is smiling and extending her arms for a hug or frowning and planting her fists on her hips. Without the ability to interpret gestures and facial expressions, the social world can seem bewildering.

          Many persons with autism have similar difficulty seeing things from another person’s perspective. Most five year olds understand that other people have different thoughts, feelings and goals than they have. A person with autism may lack such understanding. This, in turn, can interfere with the ability to predict or understand another person’s actions.

          It is common – but not universal – for those with autism to have difficulty regulating emotions. This can take the form of seemingly “immature” behavior such as crying or having outbursts in inappropriate situations. It can also lead to disruptive and physically aggressive behavior. The tendency to “lose control” may be particularly pronounced in unfamiliar, overwhelming or frustrating situations. Frustration can also result in self-injurious behaviors such as head banging, hair pulling or self-biting.

          back to top
          Communication Difficulties

          By age three, most children have passed predictable milestones on the path to learning language. One of the earliest is babbling. By the first birthday, most typically developing toddlers say a word or two, turn and look when they hear their names, point to objects they want or want to show to someone (not all cultures use pointing in this way). When offered something distasteful, they can make clear – by sound or expression – that the answer is “no.”

          By contrast, young children with autism tend to be delayed in babbling and speaking and learning to use gestures. Some infants who later develop autism coo and babble during the first few months of life before losing these communicative behaviors. Others experience significant language delays and don’t begin to speak until much later. With therapy, however, most people with autism do learn to use spoken language and all can learn to communicate.

          Many nonverbal or nearly nonverbal children and adults learn to use communication systems such as pictures (image at left), sign language, electronic word processors or even speech-generating devices.

          When language begins to develop, the person with autism may use speech in unusual ways. Some have difficulty combining words into meaningful sentences. They may speak only single words or repeat the same phrase over and over. Some go through a stage where they repeat what they hear verbatim (echolalia).

          Some mildly affected children exhibit only slight delays in language or even develop precocious language and unusually large vocabularies – yet have difficulty sustaining a conversation. Some children and adults with autism tend to carry on monologues on a favorite subject, giving others little chance to comment. In other words, the ordinary “give and take” of conversation proves difficult. Some children with ASD with superior language skills tend to speak like little professors, failing to pick up on the “kid-speak” that’s common among their peers.

          Another common difficulty is the inability to understand body language, tone of voice and expressions that aren’t meant to be taken literally. For example, even an adult with autism might interpret a sarcastic “Oh, that’s just great!” as meaning it really is great.

          Conversely, someone affected by autism may not exhibit typical body language. Facial expressions, movements and gestures may not match what they are saying. Their tone of voice may fail to reflect their feelings. Some use a high-pitched sing-song or a flat, robot-like voice. This can make it difficult for others know what they want and need. This failed communication, in turn, can lead to frustration and inappropriate behavior (such as screaming or grabbing) on the part of the person with autism. Fortunately, there are proven methods for helping children and adults with autism learn better ways to express their needs. As the person with autism learns to communicate what he or she wants, challenging behaviors often subside. (See section on Treatments.)

          back to top
          Repetitive Behaviors

          Unusual repetitive behaviors and/or a tendency to engage in a restricted range of activities are another core symptom of autism. Common repetitive behaviors include hand-flapping, rocking, jumping and twirling, arranging and rearranging objects, and repeating sounds, words, or phrases. Sometimes the repetitive behavior is self-stimulating, such as wiggling fingers in front of the eyes.

          The tendency to engage in a restricted range of activities can be seen in the way that many children with autism play with toys. Some spend hours lining up toys in a specific way instead of using them for pretend play. Similarly, some adults are preoccupied with having household or other objects in a fixed order or place. It can prove extremely upsetting if someone or something disrupts the order. Along these lines many children and adults with autism need and demand extreme consistency in their environment and daily routine. Slight changes can be extremely stressful and lead to outbursts

          Repetitive behaviors can take the form of intense preoccupations, or obsessions. These extreme interests can prove all the more unusual for their content (e.g. fans, vacuum cleaners or toilets) or depth of knowledge (e.g. knowing and repeating astonishingly detailed information about Thomas the Tank Engine or astronomy). Older children and adults with autism may develop tremendous interest in numbers, symbols, dates or science topics.

          • Do you even know what the word “pejorative” means? You used “autistic” to describe, in a negative light, people you don’t like. End of story.

  • Lorna Salzman, I am going to tell you a few things with regards to your last comment:

    I am deeply shocked by your blatant racism. Firstly, what the devil does your islamophobia have to do with the topic?? An outcry from representatives of Sweden’s classical music industry for more classical music in elementary schools, more funding for the educational projects of the institutions, and more informative media coverage of western art music. NOWHERE, and here, Norman, I call out a resounding “pants on fire!”, in the article does anyone make any reference to the marginalisation of classical music being the cause of ANYTHING. Least of all, it has anything to do with Sweden’s religious demographics.

    Regardless of this, your comment is inhumane, hateful, and certainly has no place in a forum about classical music. Your generalising Muslims with so much hate, fear, and unwillingness to seek out facts, makes you no better than a 1930’s Nazi. If you are indeed a troll, so be it, and bravo to you for firing me up like this. But if your opinions are truly those stated above, you have learned NOTHING from history. You are a very dangerous person, and a shame for humanity.

    • If you published this in a Muslim country you’d wake without a head. Since when is criticism of a religion or its fanatic violent followers forbidden? Since when is it forbidden to republish facts and stories that are in the paper every day about Islamist crimes, honor killings, hangings of gays and apostates. Why are YOU offended? And who cares if you are anyway? Wake up and smell the coffee.

      • My grandfather died in a Russian labour camp during World War II. My great aunt barely survived the Nazi concentration camps. Back then, it started with people like you. That’s why I’m offended.

        • You are a bit confused. It started with people like the radical Islamists. There is barely a hair-s width difference between Islam, communism and fascism. They all want to
          dominate, find scapegoats, kill dissenters, suppress truth and spread THEIR doctrine.
          Amazing how naive you are. You are clueless about who your enemies are and who your friends are.

          • No, Lorna, you’re confused. No one is defending “Islamism” as you call it. Many of us, however, are taking offence with your condemnation of all Muslim people. You’re equivocating on a spectacular level, and you’re apparently not even aware of it.

  • Please provide evidence that I was condemning all Muslim people. Go back and read my comments. Not ONE blanket statement condemning Muslims…only Muslim terrorists and Islamists.
    You guys have a bad habit of inventing things. Maybe you took issue with my saying that Islamist terrorist acts are actually committed by Muslims? I think that’s pretty indisputable on the face of it.
    It’s comments like yours and the others that make the left so disliked. Dishonesty, backed up by blindness and leftist ideology.

    • Here you go: “Tell me and the world how you can tell the “good” ones from the bad ones, and you will become very rich and famous.” “As for Roman and Greek
      philosophy and science, you have it backwards: the Arabs translated it into Arabic. *Sadly they didn’t learn anything from it.*” (I especially love the quotation marks around “good” but not around bad. Nice touch.)

    • “That is why the Muslim world has contributed nothing to culture and the arts, and never will until Muslims themselves force the separation of mosque and state and pursue secular values.”

  • Making this a multicultural problem is populism and just wrong.

    Sweden is european suburbia. Sweden has always wanted a seat at the table with the rest of the world. This has made our somewhat naive and concensus suffering country extremely open to especially american influence. And very successful in pop culture. Politically we have moved from an idealism to a liberal and – again naive – Money Talks dominated political climate. Very few of the politicians who personally enjoyed and could understand and defend the arts are left in government. I believe this is the reason for the weakening of position not just of classical music but of arts in general here.

  • >