28 Mar

By Rick McVicar     

  Music therapy can improve the emotional and social lives of people with autism while helping to overcome communication challenges, according to various studies.  

  Autism Spectrum Disorder causes problems with communication skills. It is often marked by limited interests and repetitive behavior, according to Satya Sree Sindhusha Vajjhala in “Unmuting Autism Through Music Therapy.”    

  Vajjhala studied music therapy by having a group of children with autism sing a little jingle to introduce themselves to each other with eye contact.  

  The children sang, “Good morning, my name is X,” repeatedly throughout the sessions, p. 84.   

  The participants got to hear their favorite songs, clap and play instruments. They often had trouble keeping attentive to one task, Vajjhala writes.  

  Children were tested before and after the therapy sessions to determine if progress was made in terms of social skills. Tests included checking for facial expressions and eye contact.   

  The results found that “music therapy has a powerful impact on the improvement of social skills,” Vajjhala writes, p. 85.   

  Also, children with the most severe amount of disabilities benefited the most, the researcher adds.   

  The article was published earlier this year by the International Journal of Enhanced Research in Educational Development.  

  The findings are in line with an earlier study published in Translational Psychiatry, 2018.

  “Music Improves Social Communication and Auditory-motor Connectivity in Children with Autism,” by Megha Sharda, describes how brain studies are only beginning to provide evidence of music’s benefits.     However, the results from brain imaging studies are promising.   

  “Music-based activities may restore altered brain connectivity and social difficulties in ASD (Autistic Spectrum Disorder),” Sharda writes. 

  The study involved about 50 children with autism undergoing music therapy sessions.  The study included brain imaging to test for changes in brain connectivity.   

  While music helps heal the minds of children with autism, music helps with development for all children as well.   

  For instance, children tend to play more with a companion if they first share a musical experience. Music helps enhance empathy as well, according to Sharda.  

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