autism, music therapy, music therapy for autism, special needs

Why does music therapy help autism?

Why does music therapy help autism?

If you have time to read this article by Neha Khetrapal, I strongly encourage you to do so. Otherwise, here are some highlights!

  • For those working on the development of greater affective cues within social settings, studies show that individuals with autism show no deficits in processing musical affect. “Thus, music can be employed to alleviate emotion recognition deficits in individuals with autism because tonal pitch differentiation is the primary means by which emotions are perceived.”
  • Studies show that background music reduces off-task behaviors and facilitated task related performance by children.
  • Studies show that musical social stories may be more successful than simply reading a story.
  • Children who received keyboard lessons (rather than drama, singing or not art lessons)  were better at identifying happy and sad emotions from speech.

And once again, one of the key points made by the author: “Studies with children have shown that music sessions are effective at promoting recognition of happiness and sadness as compared to other emotions from speech prosody.”


Khetrapal, Neha (2009). Why does Music Therapy help in Autism? Empirical Musicology Review, 4(1), 2009, 11-18. 

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