Music Therapy and Autism: What Can Music Do?

Music Therapy and Autism: What Can Music Do?
Music Therapy and Autism: What Can Music Do?

Music plays a significant role in one’s life. Aside from entertainment and pleasure, it has been found out that music offers numerous benefits that everyone could obtain. From physical concerns all the way to mental conditions, music has been proven to ease and help alleviate these issues. And today, research claims that music can help people who are in the autism spectrum.

But before we dig deeper on the relationship between music and autism, let us understand first what is autism and music therapy.

Understanding Autism

In recent years, it has been unveiled that one in every 68 Americans has autism or its other forms. Although there are no known cures for autism, treatments are largely available and accessible. This is why it is always much better to diagnose a person with autism at an early age.

By definition from Autism Association of America, autism is a complex developmental disability. And it actually manifests outwardly at a very young age. As it happens, the cause of autism is strictly unknown. But even so, studies and research papers today continue to make progress when it comes to breaking barriers in the field of autism.

People who are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder have difficulties in communicating and interacting with others. Nevertheless, recent cases and studies show that signs of progress and improvements in treatments are becoming more prevalent these days. And surprisingly, music has shown promising effects.

What Is Music Therapy?

In the medical industry, music therapy is becoming more popular as time passes by. This is because having these kinds of therapies has shown surprising results and effects that can largely help the patients with their respective concerns.

It is worth noting that music therapies are different from music lessons. And in such therapy, a licensed music therapist is the only person allowed to administer a session. Through these therapy sessions, patients are being thoroughly immersed with music which allows them to reap almost all the benefits of music to the mind and body.

Why Music Therapy?

As mentioned, music therapy is very beneficial. It has been proven and tested already. So, the question of why it will help must be now out of the equation. But even so, some of the benefits include improvements in communication skills, behavior, and social interactions. And these aspects are largely the ones that need improving when dealing with autism.

Music Therapy and Autism: What Can Music Do?

Music is therapeutic in nature. And having music therapy sessions regularly can definitely help treat autism. But it is important for you to note that this should not serve as the main treatment alone. Yes, it can make a difference but it’s much better if it is added to the standard treatments.

What Music Therapy Can Do?

For specificity, here are the 5 main things and benefits that music therapy can do for people with autism:

  • Music Can Reduce Anxiety

People with autism have been found to be so much more sensitive to anxiety than a regular person. As a result, they tend to be very anxious on a regular basis. Thankfully, music has been found to reduce anxiety and stress-inducing hormones.

In a study conducted from previous years, people with autism who attended short music therapy sessions showed a decrease in signals and symptoms of anxiety and depression. And the best type of music that is largely recommended is classical.

  • Music Is Processed in the Whole Brain

Apparently, music has become an effective form of treatment in autism due to the fact that music can stimulate all parts of the brain. As it appears, the whole brain processes music along with its beats and rhythms instead of just one part of the brain.

Music Therapy and Autism-3.jpg

Accordingly, music can improve brain functions all at once that help supports cognitive activities and other skills associated with the other part of the brain. And for a person who has autism, this is very beneficial.

  • Increased Communication and Communication Attempts

Most people who have autism are actually nonverbal? As it happens, they find difficulties in communicating and conversing with other people. This is why most of the treatments in an autism therapy session largely involve speech and communication training.

Music Therapy and Autism-5.jpg

As for music therapy, a study conducted by Wan et. al. in 2004 concluded that music significantly improves these areas. This has been very apparent when music is found to map the sounds together with the actions. And this all because music connects the motor and auditory sections of the brain which are the very responsible aspects of speech, communication, and actions.

  • Music Can Assist Social Interaction Development

Similarly, for social interactions, people who have autism tend to have a hard time interacting with other individuals. But since music therapy is a collective session that involves other participants and patients as well, it opens more opportunities for them to engage with one another.


In fact, based on many clinical studies and investigations, people who have autism who happen to attend music therapy sessions regularly showed promising emotional expressions and engagements with other people in the same class.

  • Behavioral Benefits

Behavioral benefits are also very apparent to music therapy. And this is something that is quite essential and helpful to people who have autism. In these benefits, it actually focuses on behaviors of social and verbal aspects.

Aside from claiming that enhancements and improvements are seen after attending music therapy sessions, it has been also claimed that these behavioral benefits are well-regarded with responsiveness to music.

Now, these are only some of the major benefits of music therapy for people with autism. In fact, there are a lot more studies and research papers that address the wider scope of benefits that music therapy can deliver.

So, if you are still thinking twice whether to get a music therapist or not, these established benefits will help you finalize your decisions.