The effects of music therapy on the social behavior of children with autism

The purpose of this study was to investigate if using music during instruction would increase the responses of children with autism. Specific objectives for this study included social skills of speech, sharing/tum taking, and eye contact. Six sessions were conducted, three without music and three using music speCifically designed to address the specific targeted goals of this study. Data was collected using an observer approach during regular classroom instruction and tally marks were made for every response achieved. A comparison between the results of the conventional teaching methods and that of using music during instruction showed using music tended to increase awareness and attention of the participants perhaps allowing them to have more positive responses. Although the results indicated there was significant improvement when music was used for some students, not all students showed anymore improvement then when using conventional teaching methods. This research was done during a three week period thus the long term effects of participants continuing to exhibit these new learned behaviors are unknown. Future recommendations would be to involve a larger, more diverse group of participants with a longer time period to collect and analyze data to ensure that using music therapy in the special education environment would truly enhance and benefit those who receive it. Key Words: Music therapy, autism, special education