Parents and guardians reported in an evaluation of Music Therapy and Creative Arts, Inc., that participants in music therapy were making important gains in language and communication, social skills, following directions, attention span, and cognitive skills (e.g. memory).

Qualitative Evaluation

A follow-up evaluation of music therapy services indicated parents, guardians, and administrators considered music therapy to be an essential service.  Following are examples of comments:

I don’t think a program could go without music therapy now that we are used to it and see the effects that come about…But when Miss J (the music therapist) came in she was amazing. She used techniques that I had never seen.  And she got to people that were not able to be touched for a long time, I mean with autism. (Patty Reed, Director, Cassville ARC).

Mrs. T, concerning her son, E, who has autism:  When E was admitted to music therapy he had no speech.  Within two years E developed enough speech to express his needs which resulted in a dramatic reduction in E’s temper tantrums.

Mr. S:  I like the progress reports; I like the monthly progress reports; some of the goals are tough, but I am happy to know how he is doing from the monthly progress reports.

Mrs. T:  We get more vocalization for two or three days, probably, after we have been to music therapy; and we don’t have actual words yet (consistently), but we get them every now and then, and we feel that has been a benefit of music therapy.

Mrs. D: I am so amazed at the progress every person makes here.  We watch the progress they make.  I see so much social interaction and turn taking, there’s a camaraderie in there (the music therapy room), and I don’t know…that kind of therapy brings them out.  Each student comes out better than when he went in.

Mrs. H, concerning her daughter, D:   Oh, it’s one of the best programs that I have ever encountered. It’s a therapy that combines the physical, the social interaction, and speech, all these things that are separate in other therapies, you can find them all together in music therapy.  You can have action, motion, you can have singing so you can work on speech, you can have social interaction which is a major goal for D, you can play instruments. 

Mrs. P, describing how music therapy has generalized to her home setting:  At home it is  just a joy for her to look directly at us, and focus her attention for a longer period of time, and this is important for an autistic person like M.  She is just more noticeable of her surroundings, so this is more helpful in all of her life.  We have noticed these improvements at home.  Our friends and relatives have noticed the improvements too.  She is just so much more aware of things, and her eye contact is so much better.  The consistency of having music therapy each week, and the approach, which is aimed at her specific needs when she has an individual music therapy session, has been very beneficial. 

Mrs. T, describing how music therapy has generalized to her home setting:   Yes, he has learned to say “I want,” and then what ever it is that he wants, and Miss Jen (the music therapist) was responsible for teaching him to say “I want;” and he is also learning to say “yes” and “no,” which is also being incorporated into the music therapy session.

Mrs. A, describing how music therapy has generalized to her home setting:   B is more open to his routine; he seems more open to change.  (Although) we never had a lot of trouble with B’s behavior, there were times when this would be a problem.  Now we can explain things in advance to him and this seems to help a lot.  These fits aren’t as severe.  He’s a pretty easy-going kid as far as autism goes.  He did have a tendency every now and then to have a melt-down, he’s really calmed down from those, he loves it here (the Music Therapy Services clinic).  He’s really into music and he’s got a keyboard now (A laughs); he’s got his little maracas, tambourine, and his xylophone set up in this little area of his room.  This has carried over into our home and I know it’s because of her (the music therapist).

Quantitative Evaluation

In another evaluation of MTCA music therapy services, Thornton (2010) compared Lawrence-Barry county participants in music therapy to those on a wait list for music therapy.  Both, the wait list and music therapy participants received the same services, such as speech, special education, and physical therapy.  The only difference between the two groups was that the wait list participants had never received music therapy.


  • Parents/guardians rated music therapy more highly than the other therapies or services offered.
  • While the parents/guardians agreed that other therapies were worth the funds expended for them, they strongly agreed music therapy was worth the funds expended for it.
  • Parents/guardians of participants receiving music therapy reported more gains during the past year in language skills (e.g., communicates more), social skills, following directions, and improved mood than did parents/guardians of residents not receiving music therapy.
  • Parents/guardians reported residents receiving music therapy had significantly (p = .05) more stable behavior (e.g., more calm, less stress, fewer tantrums) than was reported by parents/guardians of residents not receiving music therapy.

On the basis of the above results it was recommended that music therapy continue to be included with other developmental disabilities services.

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