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Music therapy is defined as the scientific use of music to achieve changes in nonmusical areas such as speech/language, sensorimotor, cognitive or emotional/social skills.  Music can be the “switch” that allows the brain to access control processes related to the control of movement, attention, speech production, learning and memory.

We hope that Kibbles Rockin’ Clubhouse opens your eyes to the effectiveness of music in a child’s life and how it can be a tool in helping your child with autism learn critical life skills.  We encourage you to find a local music therapist to work with that can help you develop many of the skills that your child has begun to learn through this video.  To find a local music therapist in your area, go to www.musictherapy.org

Music Research

Behind the music:  Why and how the music was crafted

Small vocal range

Children are generally able to sing lower pitches easier than higher pitches.  The melodies were designed using the vocal range (lower and middle) most accessible to children.


Use of text painting

This is a technique where the songwriter deliberately illustrates aspects of the lyrics with localized aspects of the music.  For instance when a question is asked, the melody goes up, as your voice would when asking a question in speech.  Another example is in the “Feelings” song when the background music is in minor “sad” key during the sad verse, in a major “happy” key during the happy verse, etc.


Appropriate tempos

Tempos were selected to elicit a specific response in the body.  For instance, during the “Keeping Calm” song, a tempo of 60 beats per measure was selected because it is the average resting heart rate for an individual.  Just by listening to the song, your heart rate will be “pulled” down to try and match the tempo of the music.


Use of pauses and breaks

Specific pauses were provided to allow an individual a chance to respond.  For instance, during the ”Ways to say Hello” song, there is a pause at the end of the first line to allow the listener a chance to respond by saying “hi.”


Child tested songs

All of these songs were actively used in music therapy sessions prior to being recorded to ensure their effectiveness and were found to have the “fun” factor for the kids.


High quality

All the songs were written and developed by a team of professional musicians to ensure the highest musical quality possible.  To help provide an aesthetic music experience, a full band rehearsed, wrote and recorded each song providing an authentic quality for each song.

Why music works

Improvement on word retrieval

Hoskins (1988) studied communication skills in preschool language delayed children.  He tested them on the melodic version of Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test to see how many words they could remember.  She found that they could remember more words on the melodic version of the test.  Click here to download the research article


Significant gains in phrase length, noun retrieval, and verbal imitation

Krauss and Galloway (1982) studied children with apraxia, using an integrated curriculum with music and found that they had increased communication and language skills when music was used.  Click here to download the research article


Faster learning rate

Wolfe and Hom (1993) studied preschool children using melodies to learn phone numbers.  He found they learned faster when music was used.  Click here to download the research article


Songs can be used to teach social skills and pragmatics

Pasiali (2004) studied children with autism and how to teach social skills and pragmatics.  She found that children were able to learn social stories better when the stories were set to music.

Click here to download the research article

Why music therapy is beneficial for children with autism

Shows strength in learning through melodies and with music

Individuals with autism show enhanced pitch processing that allows music to be one of the best ways for them to learn. Research conducted in 2003 by Bonnel, Mottron, Trudel, Gallun, and Bonnel, studied 12 children with autism and a control group of children without autism.  Different melodic pitches were played for each group and the children had to identify if they were same/different or high/low.  The autism group did better on the pitch discrimination tasks.  To view the research article, please click here to download the rest of the article.


Helps individuals attach with others and build relationships

Wheeler and Stultz (2007) studied infants with disabilities and discovered that music helped the infants interact and bond with their caregivers.  Music provided a structured, predictable environment for the infants to develop relationships. Click here to download the research article


Improves communication/language development, emotional responses, and attention

Wigram and Gold (2006) conducted a systematic review of research evidence with music therapy and individuals with autism and found significant positive results.  In the studies they reviewed, they found that when provided structured music therapy sessions, individuals showed improved communication, language development, emotional responses and attention and behavior control. Click here to download the research article


Improves behavior

Boso, Emanuele, Minazzi, Abbamonte & Politi (2007) conducted a study with individuals with severe autism to see how music therapy could affect their behaviors.  Individuals received music therapy for 52 weeks and significant improvements were found in their behavior and musical skill abilities. Click here to download the research article.

Bonnel, A., Mottron, L, Peretz. I., Trudel, M., Gallun, E. and Bonnel, A.M. (2003).  Enhanced pitch sensitivity in individuals with autism: A signal detection analysis.  Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience. 15(2), 226-235.


Boso, M, Emanuele, E., Minazzi, V., Abbamonte, M. & Politi, P.  (2007).  Effect of long-term interactive music therapy on behavior profile and musical skills in young adults with severe autism.  The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 13(7), 709-712.


Hoskins, Carla. (1988). Use of music to increase verbal response and improve expressive language abilities of preschool language delayed children. Journal of Music Therapy, 25(2), 73-84.


Krauss, T. and Galloway, H. 1982: Melodic intonation therapy with language delayed apraxic children . Journal of Music Therapy 19, 102-113


Pasiali, V. (2004).  The use of prescriptive therapeutic songs in a home-based environment to promote social skills acquisition by children with autism:  Three case studies.  Music Therapy Perspectives, 22(1), 11-20.


Wheeler, B., and Stultz, S.  (2008).  Using typical infant development to inform music therapy with children with disabilities.  Early Childhood Education Journal 35, 585-591.


Wigram, T. & Gold.  (2006) Music therapy in the assessment and treatment of autistic spectrum disorder: clinical application and research evidence.  Child: Care, Health and Development, 32(5), 535-542.


Wolfe, D. E. and Hom, C. 1993: Use of melodies as structural prompts for learning and retention of sequential verbal information by preschool students. Journal of Music Therapy 30, 100-11.

Reference

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