Music Therapy and Autism Spectrum Disorder

American Music Therapy Association (2010). Autism spectrum disorders: Music therapy research and  evidence based practice support.



Increased attention Improved behavior

Decreased self-stimulation Enhanced auditory processing

Improved cognitive functioning Decreased agitation

Increased socialization Improved verbal skills

Successful and safe self-expression Enhanced sensory-motor skills


Music therapy is a particularly important intervention for children with autism spectrum disorders to engage and foster their capacity for flexibility, creativity, variability and tolerance of change. Music-facilitated interactions and structured instrument playing are effective to improve social skills in school-age populations. Social problem solving skills in 5-yearold students are increased on a long-term basis through creative musical activities



American Music Therapy Association (2012). Music therapy as a treatment modality for autism spectrum disorders.


Clinical outcomes studied have focused mainly on the use of music to address:

-          Communication

-          Cognition

-          Behaviors (Problem//Repetitive/Stereotypic)

-          Social Skills and Interaction

-          Emotional Regulation


Music holds universal appeal. It provides a bridge in a non-threatening setting between people and/or between individuals and their environment, facilitating relationships, learning, self-expression, and communication.


Music captures and helps maintain attention. It is highly motivating and may be used as a natural “reinforcer” for desired responses.


Music therapy can enable those without verbal language to communicate, participate and express themselves non-verbally.


Music therapy can stimulate individuals to reduce negative and/or self-stimulatory responses and increase participation in more appropriate and socially acceptable ways.


Music therapy helps individuals with ASD identify and appropriately express their emotions.


Music provides concrete, multi-sensory stimulation.


Music therapy focuses on strengths.