Music Therapy and Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD)

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"Music will definitely play a part. To put it simply, music has opened a big window and a light has come on."

Noreen, Alifie and Louie’s mum

People with ASD struggle to make sense of the world and other people, often suffer anxiety and find it hard to build and maintain social relationships.

An estimated 700,000 people are currently living with ASD in the UK. The number of diagnoses has increased dramatically in recent years.

People with ASD may have a learning disability or other difficulties.

The original music therapy work of Paul Nordoff and Clive Robbins in the 50s and 60s was carried out with autistic children. Music therapy is often delivered in schools catering for children with special educational needs or in day centres for adults.

Potential benefits

Every course of music therapy is different, and there are no set results; each individual is different. However, some of the ways that people on the autistic spectrum have been found to benefit from music include:

  • Communication:
    • development of meaningful gestures, sounds and language
    • diversion from repetitive behaviour
    • increasing tolerance of sounds
  • Social development:
    • motivation to interact
    • tolerance of change and unpredictability
    • enhancing flexibility and responsiveness
    • providing meaningful shared experiences
  • Emotional development:
    • improving sense of self and self esteem
    • developing expressive abilities
    • sharing of emotional experience
  • Cognitive development:
    • developing awareness, concentration, memory, creativity
    • increasing conscious control of actions and handling of objects
  • Early Intervention:
    • Enhancing development at an early stage of young children on autistic spectrum, or who have difficulties associated with ASD
    • Supporting families experiencing isolation, stress or frustration
  • Specific benefits with adults with ASD:
    • Exploration of emotions and feelings
    • Richer life experience and emotional stability  

If you’d like to speak to one of our therapists about music therapy and autism, get in touch or find out how to make a referral for you or on behalf of an organisation.