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Music Therapy for Individuals with Autism

Have you ever played music while working out, cleaning your home, relaxing at the park, or even on your way to work in the morning? Have you ever considered what it does to you and why you choose to listen to it or the type of music you choose to listen to? For most of us, music is like food to our souls; it is a constant companion that one cannot go a day without. You may listen to it when you wake up in the morning to get pumped and motivated for a long work day, use it to help alleviate worries, and even use it to accompany you during difficult times. Music is a way we can express ourselves, and thus it is much more than just entertainment. Music can be a useful therapeutic intervention and has been documented to have beneficial outcomes when used with a variety of diagnostic groups. Documented benefits include improved cognitive, social, physical, and social domains, and stimulation of multiple areas of the brain (Cornhill, 2013; Simpson & Keen, 2011). Music as a therapeutic approach provides a unique variety of music experiences in an intentional and developmentally appropriate manner to effect changes in behavior and facilitate development of skills (American Music Therapy Association, 2012). This is especially important for individuals with autism as they can face more behavioral challenges than many other diagnoses. Reported benefits of music as a therapeutic intervention for individuals with autism include increase in socially accepted behaviors, increase in social response behaviors, increase in verbal communication, increase in understanding or recognition of emotions, improved attention to task, enhanced body awareness and coordination, improved self-care skills, and decreased anxiety (Vries, Beck, Stacey, Winslow, & Meines, 2015).

Individuals who utilize music as a therapeutic approach typically include music therapists, who are board-certified professionals who are members of the American Music Therapy Association, and recreation therapists. These individuals typically work with individuals with autism in public schools, early intervention centers, provide services in home, day care centers, group homes, and even in specialized programs working in tandem with other professionals (American Music Therapy Association, 2012). To obtain more information about how music can play a part in improving your child’s quality of life living with autism, please visit the American Music Therapy Association’s website at or consider contacting therapists here All Care Therapies for additional information about this approach.


American Music Therapy Association. (2012). Music therapy as a treatment modiality for autism spectrum disorders. Retrieved from American music therapy association:

Cornhill, J. L. (2013). Benefits of music therapy for individuals with autism. Retrieved from http://

Simpson, K., & Keen, D. (2011). Music interventions for children with autism: Narrative review of the literature. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 41(11), 1507-1514.

Vries, D. D., Beck, T., Stacey, B., Winslow, K., & Meines, K. (2015). Music as a therapeutic intervention with austim: A systematic review of the literature. Therapeutic Recreation Journal, 49(3), 220-237.

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