Analyzing the efficacy of improvisational music therapy as a treatment method for children with ASD

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Hall, Abigail

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The field of CSD relies on evidence-based practice or the notion that all therapy and evaluation procedures are determined by clinical opinion or reliable research. Several studies have been conducted on the efficacy of music therapy as a treatment method for children with autism; however, this method is not widely practiced by speech-language pathologists. This literature review outlines the results, strengths and weaknesses of 14 studies on the efficacy of music therapy for children with ASD. The studies were an average of 20 weeks, with 1-3 sessions per week ranging from 30-60 minutes. The sessions were all conducted by music therapists and included both individual and group sessions. The studies revealed music therapy leads to significant improvement for children with ASD in the following areas: joint attention, eye gaze, turn-taking, selective attention, expressive language, Social-emotional reciprocity, motor skills, and emotional synchrony. The paper also includes relevant background information on why music therapy works especially well for children with ASD, and suggestions for practical clinical implementation and future research. The overarching goal of this paper is to encourage SLPs to explore the research that exists outside of play-based therapy in order to ensure the best possible treatment and outcomes for children with ASD.

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