Communication is a way of creating connection, but it seems that possibly for autistic children, connection is a way of improving communication.
In this study at the University of Montreal, 51 children with ASD ages 6 to 12 were randomly assigned to participate in a clinical trial involving three months of either a music-based, or a play therapy intervention. Following the intervention, parents of children in the music group reported significant improvements in their children’s communication skills and family quality life, beyond those reported for the control group. Parents of children in both groups did not report reductions in autism severity.
“Data collected from the MRI scans suggest that improved communications skills in children who underwent the music intervention could be a result of increased connectivity between auditory and motor regions of the brain, and decreased connectivity between auditory and visual regions, which are commonly observed to be over-connected in people with autism. Sharda explains that optimal connectivity between these regions is crucial for integrating sensory stimuli in our environment and are essential for social interaction. For example, when we are communicating with another person, we need to pay attention to what they are saying, plan ahead to know when it is our turn to speak and ignore irrelevant noise. For people with autism, this can often be a challenge.”
In this study we can see the overlap between music therapy and music education, how using music as a therapy did not necessarily reduce the severity of the autism, but did improve a skill that could greatly impact on the children’s ability to learn, both socially and cognitively.