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Making Music For Autistic Children

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Autism is a term for a group of complex disorders that affect brain development. Around 1 in every 68 American children is on the autism spectrum, and tens of millions of individuals affected by autism worldwide. Autism can be associated with difficulties in motor coordination, communication challenges, and a tendency to engage in repetitive behaviors. Although autism is a life-long condition, autistic children and adults all benefit from interventions, or therapies, that can increase skills and reduce symptoms (Autism Speaks: 2014). Music -- whether it be musical instruction or simply listening to music -- has been shown to improve cognitive abilities. Making music is a complex process that requires the tuning of fine motor skills, which …show more content…

There will be four groups in the study, each composed of twenty-five American school-age children, specifically between the ages of five and ten. None of the children will have had any prior musical training. Of the four groups, two will be composed entirely of children with autism. The other two will be composed of children without autism or any cognitively debilitating disease. For the purposes of this study, the two groups composed of autistic children will be called Group A and Group B, while the groups containing non-autistic children will be referred to as Group C and Group D. At the beginning of the study, all four groups will be tested on a number of fine and gross motor skills. They will have to perform tasks that involve tracing shapes, cutting shapes, coordination (tapping feet and fingers), and throwing a ball at a target. They also will be tested on concentration and memorization by playing basic games involving paying attention to pictures on cards and then recalling the pictures later. The children's individual performances will be assessed and scores will be attributed to …show more content…

Recall that Group A is composed of autistic children while Group C is not. Specifically, the children will have hour-long piano lessons once a week for a year. In these piano lessons, the children will spend a portion of the time simply listening to the piano. They will spend the rest of the time learning to read music, play basic scales, position their fingers correctly, tap their feet to the beat of the music, and eventually play basic songs. Group B and Group D, meanwhile, will not undergo any musical training. They will not learn any musical techniques, and they will just continue on with their everyday lives for a year. They are free to listen to music if they wish, but the amount of music they listen to during this year will not have changed from the amount listened to in any previous years of their lives. These groups essentially act as control groups. At the end of the year, all four groups will take a post-test. The post-test will be made up of similar tasks as in the pre-test (the tasks will not be exactly the same to prevent bias, but they will be of the same nature and difficulty). The childrens’ individual performances will once again be assessed and then compared to their previous scores.

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