The Effect of Music Therapy on Increasing Requesting Behaviors in Children Diagnosed with Autism: A Pilot Study

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Edgell Garrison, Julie
Master of Arts in Music Therapy
The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of music therapy on increasing requesting behaviors in children diagnosed with autism. Requesting behaviors were defined as requesting assistance and requesting desired items. Nine children, ages 6 - 13 years, participated; each had a diagnosis of autism and pervasive developmental disabilities from the primary care physician. Four 30-minute individual music therapy sessions were given. Each session contained three opportunities for the participants to request assistance (i.e. I need help”) and three opportunities for the participants to request a desired item (i.e. “I want the drum”) according to their developmental level of spoken language. Responses were numerically coded on a researcher-developed collection form, the Checklist of Requesting Behaviors (CRB). Pre-test and post-test scores from the CRB were used to determine the effectiveness of music therapy intervention on increasing requesting behaviors. Results showed a significant increase from pre-test to post-test in requesting desired items and overall requesting behaviors; however there was no significant increase in requesting assistance. Regardless of level of developmental spoken language, participants collectively yielded improvement in requesting desired items and overall requesting behaviors. Results also indicated participants consistently used their current level of developmental spoken language to request preferred items with music therapy. Clinical implications and suggestions for future research are made.