Outpatient Appointments for Autistic Children: Music-Based Resources for Non-Music Therapists

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Rose, Guinevere
Master of Arts in Music Therapy
Autistic children often exhibit hyperarousal and dysregulation when attending medical and therapy appointments (South & Rodgers, 2017). Researchers have shown that music therapy can be an effective modality in working with autistic individuals (Carpente et al., 2021; Chanda & Levitin, 2013; Carpentier & Potter, 2007; Gebauer et al., 2014; LaGasse, 2018; Lory et al., 2020; Simpson & Keen, 2011). More specifically, music therapy in the form of rhythmic entrainment has been shown to promote positive change of arousal levels and regulatory behaviors in autistic individuals (Berger 2012; Orr & Myles; 1998; Hardy & LaGasse, 2013). While music therapy has been demonstrated through research to be a valuable service in dealing with these challenges, there is a gap in literature regarding usable resources. At the Memorial Outpatient Pediatric Therapy Department in Marietta, Ohio, young autistic children are seen for physical, occupational, and speech therapy services. It was reported that due to hyperarousal and dysregulation, efficacy of sessions was frequently delayed and/or diminished. This project was developed in response, and music-based resources were created for the purpose of lowering arousal levels and increasing on-task focus. Based on music therapy research and experience, the four resources were developed to be used primarily by the non-music therapists involved in this setting. One ‘Therapy Time!’ transition song was composed and recorded in video format to assist in preparation for therapy sessions. Three additional recordings were produced at 60 beats per minute, one of drumming, flute, and guitar, each approximately ten minutes in length. All four resources are accessible via YouTube for use by therapists, caregivers, and autistic children. Instructions, accompanying visual aids, and links of resources are included within project.