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Music Therapy and Autism Ranking: Limited positive evidence

Current Research

We have identified 30 scientific studies of music therapy as an intervention for people on the autism spectrum published in peer-reviewed journals.

These studies included more than 400 individuals aged from 3 months to adult.

The majority of the studies reported improvements. For example,

  • Some of the studies (Boso et al, 2007) reported increased musical skills in some participants, for example, singing a song
  • Some of the studies (such as Edgerton, 1984) reported increased communication skills in some participants, for example, matching a fast rhythmic beat from the therapist
  • Some of the studies (such as Lim and Draper, 2011) reported improved speech production in some participants, for example, producing  repeated or echoed words
  • Some of the studies (such as Thompson et al, 2014) reported increased social interaction in some participants, for example, increased interactions with other family members
  • Some of the studies (such as LaGasse et al, 2014) reported increased joint attention skills and eye gaze in some participants.

A significant minority of the studies (such as Gattino et al, 2011) reported limited or mixed results.

Please note: we did not include some of the studies included in other reviews of music therapy such as the Cochrane review carried out by Geretsegger et al. (2014). For example, we did not include studies which have only been published as student dissertations (such as Arezina, 2011).

Updated
19 Dec 2017
Last Review
01 Sep 2016
Next Review
01 Sep 2019