Helping everyone soar higher through music.

The Ascending Scales program at the Chattanooga Autism Center helps individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities access music in a way that is most beneficial to them.  We specialize in using an individualized approach to music in order to allow anyone, regardless of ability, to make, enjoy, and ultimately benefit from their interactions with music.

What is Music Therapy?

Music Therapy is the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed professional who has completed an approved music therapy program.

This means that you will work with your music therapist through assessments and discussions to create goals that are just for you or your loved one.  

It also means that your music therapist is certified and trained in the best ways to use music to address various non-musical goals.  You will not just spend your time listening to music, but rather engaging and interacting with music in the way that makes the most sense for you!



Music Therapy

Through the Ascending Scales music therapy program, music is utilized in a variety of evidence-based interventions to develop non-musical goals.  These goals may be used to address communication, socialization, fine and gross motor skills, sensory integration, attention span, behavior regulation, and emotional recognition and expression.  All interventions are individualized and based on ongoing assessments and evidence-based music therapy practices. Interventions may involve playing instruments, moving to music, actively listening, playing musical games, and/or writing songs.  Participants in the Ascending Scales music therapy program and their families will receive regular updates regarding progress toward goals, as well as interventions to practice at home in order to build on the skills addressed during the music therapy session.  

Music Lessons

The music lessons offered through the Ascending Scales program at the Chattanooga Autism Center are adapted to the individual in order to ensure each clients’ success.  Whether this means utilizing a different learning or teaching style or physically adapting an instrument, the music lessons offered at Ascending Scales seek to offer everyone, regardless of ability, a successful experience while learning an instrument.  Current lessons being offered include: beginner piano, intermediate piano, beginner guitar, intermediate guitar, beginner trumpet, and beginner percussion.

Group Music Therapy

Group music therapy sessions offer music interventions that are designed to meet goals that are easily addressed in a group setting such as socialization and communication.  Group music therapy sessions provide opportunities for individuals with similar needs to work together to learn and explore through music. Groups may include 3 - 10 clients and can be created by the clients if you have a group of friends you’d like to make music with, or you can join one of our ongoing group sessions.  Be sure to watch for upcoming groups!


Why music therapy for someone with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)?

Music therapy has been proven to be effective with individuals with ASD because of its ability to engage both hemispheres of the brain at the same time.  When processing and interacting with and through music, individuals are engaging the communication, sensory, motor, and auditory areas of the brain. Music is one of the few modalities available that allows for the stimulation and growth of so many brain areas at the same time.

Because music is a social exercise, music therapy has also been shown to increase the social and communication skills of individuals with ASD.  By learning how to interact and communicate with the therapist through music, individuals build the skills necessary for social development. These skills include turn taking, waiting, appropriate volume/voice control, and transitioning.

Music therapy is so effective with individuals with ASD because it’s fun! Learning an instrument and engaging with music is a great way to build leisure skills. Individuals with ASD often need guidance to learn how to “play” and exposure to instruments and music opens the door to countless opportunities for leisure and enjoyment.

Interested in learning more about music therapy and ASD?  Check out these websites:


Meet the Music Therapist!

Nicole (Nicky) Croisant has been a board certified music therapist (MT-BC) since 2011 and has been working with individuals on the autism spectrum since 2007.  While working as a music therapist, direct care worker, line therapist, and care coordinator for individuals with ASD, Nicky has had the opportunity to learn and practice multiple therapy modalities that fall into her humanistic approach to therapy.  By focusing on the individual as a whole and ensuring that clients are not defined by their disabilities, Nicky is able to engage with clients in a way that is meaningful and productive. Nicky is currently working in the STAGES program and the ABA clinic at the Chattanooga Autism Center and is in the process of obtaining her RBT certification.  She is also hoping to return to school in the fall in order to obtain her Master’s degree and BCBA certification. When not working with individuals with autism or studying, Nicky can be found outdoors either in a whitewater kayak, hiking or running, or on a mountain bike.



Who can participate?

Everyone! Both music therapy and music lessons are available to anyone of any age or ability.  Music therapy sessions are designed for individuals and groups who want to address non-musical goals such as communication, socialization, and emotional expression.  Music lessons are designed to teach the participant to play an instrument of his/her choosing.


What does a typical music therapy session look like?

Because each music therapy session is individualized, no two music therapy sessions look the same.  Usually, music therapy sessions will start with a hello or welcome song in order to establish a “start” of the session.  Then the music therapist will provide different interventions that may involve playing instruments, listening to music, talking about music, moving to music, or playing musical games.  The sessions will usually conclude with a goodbye song in order to create a concise “end” to the session and help the client transition away from the music therapy session.


Do I have to play an instrument in order to participate in music therapy?

No!  Music therapy sessions are individualized in order to address everyone's unique abilities and needs.  If you’d like to learn how to play an instrument as part of your therapeutic work, that could be an option.  Just know that in those situations the goal is not to learn the instrument, the goal is to build other non-music skills while learning an instrument.

What is the cost of each session?

All new students receive one free half hour session to discuss goals and preferences.

One on one music therapy (45 minute session): $30 per session

Adapted music lessons (30 minutes): $20 per lesson

Group music therapy (1 hour): $10-$15/session per person, depending on group size


How can I pay for these services?

All Ascending Scales music programs are private pay services.  

Individuals will be billed at the end of each month and payments can be submitted to the music therapist in person or the Chattanooga Autism Center in person, over the phone, or online.


Where do the sessions take place?

Ascending Scales has an office at the Chattanooga Autism Center (CAC), located at 1400 McCallie Avenue Chattanooga, TN.  

If in-home instruction in desired, an additional travel fee of $5 per session can be added.


Interested in starting your Ascending Scales experience?

Fill out this form and you will be contacted within 24 hours.


Current Ascending Scales participants can use the button below to pay their monthly fees or to pay for classes and other programs they wish to attend.

Click “Buy Now” button below, enter the dollar amount you need to pay in the “Item price” box on in the order summary.

This can be your monthly fee amount, the price of a class you’re attending, or whatever price was listed that you need to pay.

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Chattanooga Autism Center

1400 McCallie Avenue, Suite 100

Chattanooga, TN 37404

(423) 531-6961 (option 2)

Fax: (423) 521-8094