Week 2: Methodologies and Effectiveness

Apr 14, 2021

This week I wanted to research the effectiveness of music therapy for children with ASD and methodologies. However, in hopes of working with Dr. Noa Fort, my on-site advisor, to potentially shadow a music therapy session and learn from her, there were safety precautions that halted that possibility. There were two main obstacles from making a potential visit happen. The privacy of the clients that Dr. Fort has would be breached and the introduction of me into the classes could cause complications with how the children would react to me joining the zoom session. In lieu of the situation, I’ve looked at articles and videos to begin my research. 


I first looked at a book, Teaching Music to Children with Autism: Understandings and Perspectives by Ryan Hourigan and Amy Hourigan. While this book doesn’t necessarily focus on music therapy, it is very informative of the relationship between music and children with ASD. The book follows the commentary and research of Dr. Richard Solomon, who mentions that music is a resource to help children with ASD communicate how they feel. He specifically references the idea of the “comfort zone”, which is a concept that was first used by psychologist Lev S. Vygotsky. Essentially, the comfort zone is a mental environment that acts as a safe space for people with ASD. However, this safe space acts as a hindrance for children that have ASD. In school settings, the tendency to retreat back to their comfort zone can interfere with the skills to communicate and learn. Dr. Solomon explains how music can act as a form of expression to break through with communication barriers that children with ASD have and limit the tendencies of children with ASD to retreat back to their comfort zones. 


An observation that Ryan Hourigan and Amy Hourigan noticed was that the many music educators have pointed out that the children they teach with ASD tend to have an affinity or talent for music. Music therapist and researcher Micheal Thaut stated that, “ Children on the autistic spectrum often have a remarkable capability and responsiveness to music as compared to most other parts of their behavior, as well as in comparison with [neuro]typical children.” However, a challenge that music teachers face is how can they tap into the responsiveness of the children with other distractions that arise. A strategy that music teachers use in response to this challenge is through a system called PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System). It is important to understand that children with ASD may comprehend more than they can express verbally. PECS allows teachers to make pictures with words to help students with ASD communicate through music therapy sessions. This method is very efficient when used in sessions with students that I’ve seen in youtube videos of music therapy sessions. 

2 Replies to “Week 2: Methodologies and Effectiveness”

  1. Zihan S. says:

    I really enjoyed your research and excited to see how it develops in the coming weeks. Keep up the great work!

  2. Alex G. says:

    I enjoy seeing your progress and you are going into the right way! Keep it up!

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