According to the CDC, 1 in 110 children have some form of autism. While symptoms vary from case to case, there are two essential characteristics of the disorder: the subject experiences 1) a deficit in “social communication and social interaction across multiple contexts,” and 2) “restricted, repetitive patterns of behaviors, interests, and activities.”
Since autism is a spectrum disorder, there are many treatment and therapy options available, including art therapy. Each subject is different, and there is no single treatment that is equally effective for all individuals with autism. However, many studies note the positive effect music therapy has on children with autism spectrum disorders. This form of art therapy uses musical experiences and interventions to bring about critical behavioral changes in the subject, as well as assisting in the development of life skills.
As there is no known cure for autism, it is ideal to begin intervention early in an individual’s development in order to ensure their highest potential. Music therapy is effective for subjects from all walks of life, but has a particularly profound impact on children. A study by Kim, Wigram, and Gold found that autistic children were more responsive to their music therapy sessions than to their play sessions. Through music, they became more expressive, joyful, and socially engaged. In addition, the children were more responsive to the demands of their therapists during music sessions than in play sessions.
Music, as a medium, is expressive. Throughout history, people have used music to evoke feeling and a sense of connection with others. Music therapy is a non-threatening, positive, and inviting means of reaching out to autistic individuals.