A Music Therapy Retrospective Narrative Inquiry into the Speech Acquisition of a Child on the Autism Spectrum

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Rene, Alison
Master of Arts in Music Therapy
The purpose of this paper was to gain an understanding about the acquisition of speech by a 13-year-old nonverbal child on the autism spectrum and the role, if any, that music therapy played. Within the field of music therapy there has been research about how children on the autism spectrum learn communication skills and the role music therapy can play in the process. However, there has been little focus on the experience of those children and their communities. The research was organized using a narrative approach. Interview questions were designed specifically for the student’s particular situation. The music therapist conducted the interviews with the parents and a teacher. Themes were drawn out from the coded analysis. The results revealed several themes that helped to explain how the student began speaking and how music therapy assisted the process. The relevant themes that emerged were: verbal, calm body, communication, and social skills. Outcomes that served this child’s learning may assist others in future research.