music therapy

Music Therapy: Discordant Noise on the Internet

Information on music and autism abounds on the Internet. There is even a certification board for Music Therapists. That association has a rubric for autism. Autism Speaks (who should know a thing or two about science) is also getting into the act and creating legitimacy for Music Therapy by featuring a guest blogger who is involved in Music Therapy.

Ever the optimist, I thought there may be new research that perhaps I had missed amongst the usual noise on autism and Music Therapy. So I went to the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) music therapy fact sheets & bibliograpies, in search of what they have on the topic.

This is what I found:

“The literature reports that most individuals with ASD respond positively to music. People with ASD often show a heightened interest and response to music, making it an excellent therapeutic tool for working with them.”

This reminds me of the Psychic Network infomercials of a few years ago: “
Trust us, we’re for real!”

Now, please, don’t get the wrong idea. I’ve blogged about the value of music (“
The Role of MusicPart 1 and Part 2) and how helpful it is for integration, employment, and enjoyment for people with autism; however, that is very different from the so-called autism intervention of Music Therapy.

In short, once again we need to remind Music Therapy advocates that for the broader community to take you seriously, please
Show us the data!

Until such time,
we should not be calling any activity involving music and people afflicted with autism, “therapy.”

Aside from what we know is established in the science, I’ve recently written about a preliminary bright spot in research on music - the targeting of non-verbal children with autism. However, this should not be confused with the fashion de jour Music Therapy that is being offered. This new area of research is experimental and developing in the field of Neurology. Hopefully, more evidence will soon be collected regarding these experimental techniques and non-verbal children with autism will hopefully have an effective treatment for speech impairment at some point in the future.

The National Standards Report Panel Sings Off Key

This is the first in a series of posts on the various findings of the autism treatment guidelines from the National Standards Report (NSR). Some of you may be thinking, “What does this dry, boring group of Ph.D.s have to do with me, or my kid?” Read more...