By Kate Wicker, Music Therapy intern
Written during the second month of my University Affiliated Internship - Queens University of Charlotte
Today’s blog will highlight one clinical study focused on music therapy and its effect on social skills in children with autism. Music is often referred to as the universal language, with the ability to create experiences that transcend human communication barriers. This quality is one that music therapists utilize and see the effects of daily in their clinical practice – especially in regard to the support and enhancement of developing social skills in children with autism.
The Journal of Music Therapy published a 2014 article that described the results of a study focusing on this very thing. During this experiment, researchers observed and tracked two social skills groups – one utilizing music, and one using non-musical teaching methods. To do this, they focused on things like eye gaze, joint attention, and communication initiation/response. They basically compared the two groups at the end of five weeks (with one 50 minute group session per week) and attempted to answer the question “is there any difference in social skill enhancement between children who received the music therapy group interventions when compared to children in the no-music group?”
For this study, the music therapy group showed increased joint attention and eye gaze in comparison to the parallel no-music group. The study results discuss how music acts as a structure to guide participants through a group session, which can be particularly effective for those with autism in comparison to sessions relying on verbal prompting alone. This shows that music can be a highly effective tool for use in the treatment of non-musical behaviors and functions.
While music therapy can be a fun and stimulating way for children with autism to grow and connect with others, it also has the ability to help them reach relevant and life-changing goals. If you or a loved one is interested in receiving services from a board-certified music therapist, you can find a list of approved providers here.
Providing music therapy services for early childhood to older adults, music instruction and enrichment plus continuing music therapy education in Greater Charlotte Area of the Carolinas.