Searching for music’s potential: A critical examination of research on music therapy with individuals with autism

With a growing body of research pointing to the potential benefits of parent-mediated interventions for supporting development in children with ASD, there is both a need, and increasing capacity, to examine influencing factors (29). Unlike previous meta-analysis, our subjects were children younger than 12 years old. Some limitations continued through to the meta-analysis and should be considered. First, the study design, methodological quality, and types and forms of music contributed to increasing the heterogeneity of the meta-analyses. The goal of this meta-analysis was to determine how MT affected children with ASD.

music therapy for autism

The authors conducted a literature review on music therapy for individuals with autism because of the frequent use of music therapy for those with autism and recent research on the musical abilities of this population. Music therapists and researchers have carried out mostly case studies and a surprisingly limited number of empirical investigations. Although these reports provide limited empirical support of the therapy with this population, they have utilized a wide array of creative techniques and varying types of music therapy worthy of discussion. Four studies were conducted in youths with dyslexia, and one study was conducted in youths with language delay (Table 5). Two non-controlled studies examined the effect of educational music therapy on children with dyslexia (53, 54). Overy (53) reported a positive effect of school-based music therapy sessions on reading competence in nine children with dyslexia.

Is Vocational Therapy Effective for Autism?

Communication is something that children on the spectrum struggle with portraying. Often music therapy helps in the development of verbal communication and speech. Autistic children may tend to better express themselves through music than any other form of expression. Music therapy may also enable those without verbal language to express themselves and communicate nonverbally.

Therapists use music therapy to relate to the child at their level which helps them find commonality in music to make a connection, build trust, and increase social skills. Since many autistic children and adults respond relatively positively to musical stimuli it becomes not surprising that music has often been used to motivate and encourage the autistic person. The positive affective responses of these individuals can enhance their participation in other activities designed to facilitate social, language, and perceptual-motor functions. In addition, music may also provide a useful context for encouraging the development of curiosity and exploratory interest in stimuli simply by virtue of the fact that it is pleasurable (Nelson, et al, 1984). These tasks require children with ASD to engage in joint attention with the therapist by acknowledging them with their eyes and ears (Kim et al., 2008; Simpson & Keen, 2011; Spiro & Himberg, 2016). Music therapy is a therapeutic approach that utilizes music to address the unique needs and goals of individuals with various conditions, including autism.

As your child develops new skills, you can increase the difficulty level of the tasks in the app to challenge and motivate them even further. This helps your child grow and progress at their own pace, while also keeping them engaged and excited about their development. In 2011, just a week into her third congressional term, she was a victim of an assassination attempt and was critically injured by a gunshot wound to the head. But months of music therapy helped to produce new pathways in her brain, creating new avenues for speech. Here is a short video from demystifying medicine explaining some of the ways that music therapy may benefit children with Autism. This kind of therapy is a well-established clinical use of music which is used to accomplish individualized goals such as improving mood, reducing stress and self-expression.

Enhancing Communication Skills

Since music can stimulate cognitive functioning, it may be used for the remediation of some speech and language skills. Explores the use of music, in conjunction with other therapies, as a successful treatment modality in interrupting isolation patterns in autistic children and in establishing patterns of communication. Better Speech is a convenient, effective and affordable online speech therapy for children and adults. Join now and get matched to a licensed speech therapist to improve your future. Speech therapy for autism at home – If you want to learn more about music for autism therapy, we would love to talk with you. At Better Speech, we offer online speech therapy services convenient for you and tailored to your child’s individual needs.

Read more about autism piano lessons here. The Preferred Reporting Items for System Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) Statement Guide was reviewed. We searched the electronic databases that met the requirements and manually searched the reference list from the existing review. Additional relevant publications were found by scanning the reference lists of the retrieved research. A systematic search of the PubMed, Embase, and Cochrane Library databases from inception to October 2021 to identify studies that administered MT to children with ASD. Music therapy also helps with the part of the brain that controls alertness and activity (thalamus). Research showed that kids with autism could have better control over their awareness, leading to a more positive attitude in their daily lives. The impact music has on our minds and our bodies has been well-known for hundreds of years.

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