3 Studies that Support Music Therapy for Autism

Various organizations across the U.S. are putting together autism awareness/action months in April, and here at The George Center Blog, I wanted to highlight some ways that music therapy works with clients with autism spectrum disorders. Check out these 3 research articles that support music therapy as part of a treatment plan for clients with autism:

1. Music therapists address common goal areas of major autism treatment models.

In this study, the researchers video taped music therapy sessions, then had people trained in the SCERTS model (an autism treatment model, similar to ABA) rate which goal areas were being addressed. The three major goal areas of the SCERTS model were addressed: Social Communication, Emotional Regulation, and Transactional Support. Within each of these, goal areas such as symbol use, social communication, emotional regulation, and joint attention were addressed. This study shows that music therapy can effectively address goals that clients with autism are already working on in their treatment programs.

2. Music therapy incorporated with ABA Verbal Behavior approach can be used to effectively teach language skills.

In this study, the researchers compared a music-based ABA VB training to traditional ABA VB training. Both programs significantly improved language production, with the music-based program more effectively targeting echoic productions (over no music) and the no music group more effectively targeting tact production (over the music group).

3. Neurologic music therapy techniques can improve speech production in children with autism. 

This study again compared a music to no-music speech production training, this time a video based program. The study found that both the music and non-music groups significantly increased speech production over the control group. The music group however, was more effective for low functioning students than the non-music group.


Music therapy can be an effective mode of treatment for people of all ages with autism spectrum disorders. Find out more by talking with one of our therapists!