Children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) often struggle with social skills. In a study completed by Blythe LaGasse, PhD, MT-BC she wanted to see if music therapy interventions provided in a group setting continue to have the same benefits on social skills. This study specifically looked at the effect on eye gaze, joint attention, and communication within children with ASD. In this study 17 participants diagnosed with ASD between the ages of 6 and 9 were randomly assigned to a no music social skills group or a music therapy group. Over a 5 week span the participants participated in ten 50-minute sessions. Both of these groups were designed to target social skills. There were three evaluations used to determine the changes in social behaviors. The three evaluations were The Social Responsiveness Scale (SRS), the Autism Treatment Evaluation Checklist (ATEC), and video analysis of sessions. The results showed significant results in increased joint attention and eye gaze in the music therapy group. There were no significant results between the music therapy group and the no music social skills group within the initiation of communication, response to communication, or social withdraw. There was also a significant interaction between the time and group with the music therapy group during the SRS. There was no significance between the music therapy group and the non music social skills group for the ATEC. These results show that more research in the area of music therapy groups with ASD could be beneficial in increasing social skills. Initial data shows that group music therapy sessions can help with joint attention in children with ASD.
By Kylie Rodríguez, MM, MT-BC
Lagasse, A. B. “Effects of a Music Therapy Group Intervention on Enhancing Social Skills in Children with Autism.” Journal of Music Therapy, vol. 51, no. 3, 2014, pp. 250–275., doi:10.1093/jmt/thu012.