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Previous research has investigated the effect of music stimulation on children with autism (Boso, Emanuele, Minazzi, Abbamonte, & Politi, 2007; Brownell, 2002; Finnigan & Starr, 2010; Kuhlman & Schweinhart (n.d.); Lundqvist, Andersson, & Viding, 2009; Orr, Myles, & Carlson, 1998; Wood, 1991) with mixed results. The National Standards project has categorized music therapy as an "emerging" treatment methodology, indicating that more research is needed to fully examine its effectiveness when used in intervention for individuals with autism (National Autism Center, 2012). Reviews of the literature have indicated that children with language processing disorder may also benefit from music stimulation (Geist, McCarthy, Rodgers-Smith, & Porter, 2008). However, additional evidence is warranted to reliably evaluate the effect of music stimulation on focus during therapy sessions. The current study was conducted to examine the effect of music stimulation on on-task behaviors in a child with autism spectrum disorder and a child with language processing disorder.
The subjects were two five year old males receiving individual speech and language services at Eastern Illinois University' s (EIU) Speech-Language-Hearing Clinic (Clinic). One male was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder and the other with language processing disorder. Instrumental music was presented to both subjects via a laptop computer during regularly scheduled speech and language therapy. Both subjects were exposed to music stimulation for fifteen minutes of the therapy session. The frequency of task-related verbalizations, non-task related verbalizations, teacher/clinician prompts, and physically disruptive behavior was recorded when music stimulation was present and absent.
Results of the study revealed no significant difference between the frequency of dependent variables when music was present, as opposed to its absence. Raw data suggested that participant 1 showed more focused behaviors when music stimulation was present, and participant 2 was consistently focused during both conditions.
These findings suggest that music stimulation might be an effective methodology to facilitate productive behavior during treatment sessions for communication disorders. Additional research is necessary to further investigate the beneficial aspects of music stimulation.
Fitch, Chelsea, "The Use of Music Stimulation to Increase On-Task Behavior in Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Language Processing Disorder" (2013). Undergraduate Honors Theses. 72.