University of Massachusetts Lowell “SoundScape Program”


SoundScape: Brief Overview.

The SoundScape program is a music intervention program for high-functioning adolescents and young adults with autism spectrum disorders (e.g. Asperger's syndrome). The program focuses on creative music exploration and composition using iPads and an exciting range of music apps. Ashleigh Hillier, Ph.D. (UMass Lowell Department of Psychology) and Gena Greher Ed.D (UMass Lowell Department of Music) direct the “SoundScape Program” at UMass Lowell along with a wonderful group of Psychology and Music undergraduate and graduate students. SoundScape is for individuals with ASD aged between 13-30 years. The SoundScape program runs once a week for 9 weeks on Wednesdays from 5.00-6.30pm at UMass Lowell south campus. The next available program will start on Wednesday 9th October. There is a $50 fee to participate in SoundScape (scholarships are available for those who cannot afford the fee). SoundScape also provides an informal parent group which meets at the same time and place.


SoundScape: Frequently Asked Questions.


1)      When and where are SoundScape meetings?

The next available program will start on Wednesday 9th October. The program meets once a week for 9-weeks from 5.00-6.30pm in Durgin Hall on UMass Lowell's south campus. Directions will be sent to interested participants.


2)      What are the main aims of SoundScape program?

Participants: SoundScape aims to enable participants to increase their creativity, self-awareness, self-esteem, and peer relationships. During the sessions participants will:



UMass Lowell Students: UMass Lowell undergraduate and graduate students are involved in SoundScape. These students provide excellent role models for those in the program. Many of the students intend to move in to professional positions working with people on the autism spectrum when they graduate. Therefore, SoundScape provides a unique opportunity to work with adolescents and young adults on the autism spectrum and to connect and apply course content to practical applications. Through their participation students are able to gain the experience and skills they will need to be effective and successful professionals. Students participate for course credit, or as volunteers. Please contact Dr. Hillier or Dr. Greher for more information, and see the section below on volunteer opportunities.


Research component: As part of the SoundScape program participants and parents are asked to complete some questionnaires before and after the program (although this is not necessary to participate in SoundScape). This is critical in enabling Drs. Hillier and Greher to evaluate the efficacy of the intervention. Once our program model is empirically demonstrated to be effective, SoundScape can serve as a model to other organizations around the country who are interested in conducting similar programs. This is very important as few programs currently exist for adolescents and young adults on the autism spectrum.


3)     Who is eligible to participate in SoundScape?

The SoundScape program is for high functioning adolescents and young adults on the autism spectrum (e.g. Asperger’s syndrome) who are aged between 13 and 30 years. Participants must provide proof of diagnosis to participate in SoundScape (e.g. a recent neuropsychological report, letter from psychiatrist / psychologist etc.).


4)      Do I need to be able to play an instrument to participate in SoundScape?


The SoundScape program is appropriate for participants with any level of musical knowledge or ability. It is not necessary for participants to be able to play a musical instrument or have any background in music.


5)      How much does it cost to participate in SoundScape?


There is a $50 fee to take part in SoundScape (scholarships are available for those who cannot afford the fees). This covers expenses of the program.


6)      Do parents attend SoundScape meetings?

Parents are encouraged to participate in an informal parent support group while their son / daughter attends the SoundScape sessions. Previous groups of parents have found this group to be extremely beneficial.


7) Who runs the SoundScape program?

Dr. Ashleigh Hillier and Dr. Gena Greher run the SoundScape Music program. Ashleigh Hillier, Ph.D. is a Psychology professor at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, Dr. Greher is a professor in the Department of Music. Dr. Hillier has spent many years working with adolescents and young adults on the autism spectrum and currently runs a number of other programs including the “Aspirations” weekly social and vocational skills program, “The Network” monthly social and vocational skills program, the "Horizons" college preparation mentoring program, and a Movie Club. Further information about these other programs, as well as Dr. Hillier’s resume, can be found on the main page of this website:


8) What is the next step for joining SoundScape?


You can complete an Enrollment Form. This form can either be emailed or mailed to Dr. Hillier (contact information below). Dr. Hillier will then review the enrollment and if it seems like you / your son / daughter is a good match for SoundScape she will contact you with further details. You must also mail your proof of diagnosis with the enrollment form (e.g. recent neuropsychological report, letter from psychiatrist / psychologist, etc.).


Contact Dr. Hillier at:


Ashleigh Hillier, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Department of Psychology

University of Massachusetts Lowell

113 Wilder Street, Suite 300

Lowell, MA 01854-3059

Phone: 978-934-2930



SoundScape: Volunteer Opportunities

Students at the University of Massachusetts Lowell who are interested in getting involved in the SoundScape program should contact Dr. Hillier at This can be done as a volunteer, or for course credit as a Community Service course (47.486).


SoundScape: Quotes

"Participating in these programs allowed me to develop skills that will be very useful to me in the future…. I was put into situations where I had to decide the best way to deal with a behavior that I was not used to dealing with. I was able to try out different solutions until something worked….The best way to develop skills and really understand a disability is to work directly with that disability and experience the situations first hand." UMass Lowell Psychology Graduate Student.

"The interaction with people on the spectrum has provided me with a lot of joy. SoundScape gave me something to look forward to throughout the week." UMass Lowell Psychology Undergraduate Student.

"SoundScape was an extremely rewarding program and I was honored to be part of it. It was inspirational to see those who might have a hard time interacting with the peers collaborate with eachother to create such original pieces of music." UMass Lowell Psychology Undergraduate Student.

"This service course has helped me see what textbook pages cannot write, listen to individuals who want to be heard, and namely, connect with people who offer so much more than, in principle, qualitative differences." UMass Lowell Psychology Undergraduate Student.


SoundScape: How to Make a Donation

Donations are helpful to maintain and enhance the SoundScape program. Monetary donations can be made by writing a check to: University of Massachusetts at Lowell - SoundScape Program, and mailing it to: Ashleigh Hillier, Ph.D., University of Massachusetts at Lowell, Psychology Department, 1 Mahoney Hall, 870 Broadway Street, Lowell, MA 01864.  A letter of acknowledgement and appreciation will be issued by the University for donations that are made to the SoundScape program.  The acknowledgement letter can be used as a receipt when filing taxes.


Dr. Hillier's Home Page