Meet Alphonso Archer, a visionary Creative Music Leader whose journey into the world of autism support has been defined by passion, innovation, and unwavering dedication.

Join us as we delve into the story of Alphonso, one of the driving forces behind Venturers’ Academy since 2016 – the pioneering state-funded institution in Bristol exclusively designed for children with Autistic Spectrum Conditions (ASC) and Education Health Care Plans (EHCP).

With a first degree in Sociology/Psychology, Alphonso commenced his career as a Welfare Officer, supporting Reading’s black community and helping young adults on remand. He later embarked on a professional journey in IT and software which spanned over two decades, working for hi-tech companies in Berkshire and London. In parallel, he fervently pursued his passion for music, engaging in teaching, playing in bands, and various solo projects.

In 2016, life presented Alphonso with a formidable challenge – a diagnosis of prostate cancer and brain AVM. In the face of adversity, he embraced his musical aspirations, birthing a private teaching practice that would evolve into a specialised creative music haven for children with autism. His relentless determination gave rise to the creative music department at Venturers’ Academy, illuminating the lives of countless children with hope and possibility using various traditional instruments and cutting-edge technologies, including virtual reality (VR)

Ever eager to expand his knowledge, Alphonso pursued a master’s degree in music therapy from the University of the West of England (UWE), where he achieved a distinction. His dissertation centred on the profound role of music in aiding black men’s recovery from prostate cancer treatment. Today, as a music therapist at Venturers’ Academy, he collaborates with a multi-disciplinary team of occupational therapists, dance therapists, and psychotherapists to provide holistic student support. His private practice includes working with adults with autism, mental health challenges and people living with cancer.

Invincible: How we can train our hearts to beat stress and achieve success

During our talk I spoke to Anna about resonance breathing and gave an example of breathing in for four seconds and out for six. These techniques are discussed in detail by Dr Leah Lagos. It is an excellent and practical book!
Stress is not in your head, it’s in your heart – this is the key to peak performance that Dr Leah Lagos, an internationally known expert in biofeedback and sport and performance psychology, wants us to know.
In this book, she shares with readers for the first time the same program that she uses with top athletes, CEOs, business leaders – anyone who wants and needs to perform at their best. What makes her scientifically proven ten-week programme unlike any other is that she recognises the link between heart rhythms and stress to create specific, clinically tested breathing techniques that allow you to control your body’s physical response to stress. She pairs this training with cognitive-behavioural exercises to offer a two-tiered protocol for strengthening health and performance, enabling readers to respond more flexibly to stressful situations, let go of negative thoughts and emotions, and ultimately be more focused and confident under pressure.
Selective Mutism  
I spoke with Anna about my work with children with selective mutism and autism and mentioned the work of Dr Kate Jones with whom I have collaborated. Here is a link to some of her research:

A theoretical framework for the use of music therapy in the treatment of selective mutism in young children: Multiple case study research


Venturers’ Academy
Opened in September 2016, Venturers’ Academy is Bristol’s first state-funded all-age specialist provision for children with a primary diagnosis of Autistic Spectrum Conditions (ASC) and with an Education Health Care Plan (EHCP).
Lakhile Dlamini
Lakhile is almost 16 years old now! He has his own YouTube Channel that showcases his talents and creativity!
Lakhile’s mum took the attached picture at my studio a few years ago – it’s her favourite photo!

Into the Forest: How Trees Can Help You Find Health and Happiness

In Into the Forest, Immunologist and Forest Medicine expert, Dr Qing Li, examines the unprecedented benefits of the world’s largest natural health resource: the great outdoors.

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