Publication in: Fall 2023 Issue

Music Therapy as a form of Intervention for Autism Spectrum Disorder
Caroline Scholer
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Faculty Mentor(s):
Caitlin Brez
Abstract / Summary:
For many years, music has been regarded as a therapeutic asset, dating back as early as the 1700s. Music has been used in a variety of therapeutic forums, specifically as a method of intervention. Most commonly known as music therapy (MT), it is utilized as a tool to help strengthen developmental skills, and as a primary way to improve communication and social skills. These benets are especially valuable for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) specifically contains deficits in impaired communication, reciprocal social interaction and restricted interests, in which music has been shown to further develop through a socio-emotive lens. This can be used to help them further social knowledge, and to provide a structure for social interactions. Music offers a powerful way to improve social skills and communication, and successfully incorporates social-pragmatic skills through conversational lyrics, the act of imitating body movements or language, and purposeful musical coordination. This literary review aims to understand the effectiveness of music’s role in the application of improving ASD symptoms. It will further discuss music’s importance for ASD individuals from a developmental perspective, through adolescence up until emerging adulthood. Within this review, we will be looking at the perceived benefits regarding music-based intervention (music therapy) and its effects on individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder. We will also be exploring the different confounding variables of MT intervention, and how they can be assessed and accounted for moving onward. We hypothesize that those who incorporate music into their daily lives report a positive correlation between music and the effectiveness of improving various deficits of ASD.
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