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Music Therapy and Autism Ranking: Limited positive evidence

Aims and Claims

Aims

Music therapy is designed to address a wide range of physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs.  For example, according to the American Music Therapy Association website, accessed on 17 May 2016,

“Music Therapy is the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed professional who has completed an approved music therapy program.

“Music Therapy is an established health profession in which music is used within a therapeutic relationship to address physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs of individuals. After assessing the strengths and needs of each client, the qualified music therapist provides the indicated treatment including creating, singing, moving to, and/or listening to music. Through musical involvement in the therapeutic context, clients' abilities are strengthened and transferred to other areas of their lives. Music therapy also provides avenues for communication that can be helpful to those who find it difficult to express themselves in words. Research in music therapy supports its effectiveness in many areas such as: overall physical rehabilitation and facilitating movement, increasing people's motivation to become engaged in their treatment, providing emotional support for clients and their families, and providing an outlet for expression of feelings.”

Claims

There have been a number of claims for the use of music therapy with individuals on the autism spectrum. For example, the British Association of Music Therapy website, accessed on 24 May 2016, claims

“Music therapy can be very helpful for those with a diagnosis on the autistic spectrum. Involvement in music making can both stimulate and relax a person leading to very positive changes.

“Music therapy with children can:

  • help a child to listen
  • encourage spontaneous play
  • stir a desire to communicate
  • strengthen muscles and improve co-ordination
  • help the child to build relationships
  • improve concentration
  • provide a means of self expression
  • stimulate language development through songs and turn taking
  • excite imagination and creativity”
Updated
19 Dec 2017
Last Review
01 Sep 2016
Next Review
01 Sep 2019