Embodied Rhythm Interventions For Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders
University of Connecticut
Children with autism often receive music-based interventions to improve social communication and motor skills. However, there is little evidence to support their use. This project will develop a novel rhythm intervention based on joint action, rhythmic movement synchronization, and music making. Low-functioning children with autism between 4 to 10 years of age will be randomly assigned to a rhythm intervention or stationary play/control group. Each group will receive 40 training sessions over 8 weeks (5 sessions per week). Expert trainers provide training for 2 sessions per week and parents provide training for 3 sessions per week. Pretest and posttest measures will be obtained before and after training for standardized tests of Joint Attention (JA), turn taking, imitation, praxis, coordination and balance. Video data and eye tracking data will also be obtained during pre and posttests of synchrony during walking, marching, clapping, and drumming motions. Children with autism are expected to demonstrate improved social performance such as rates of JA bids, rates of turn taking, and duration of verbalization, as well as motor performance such as rhythmic action praxis, motor coordination, and movement synchrony with the other participating child. Therefore, this project has the potential to achieve the goal of examining multisystem effects of a novel embodied rhythm intervention on the social communication and motor skills of children with autism.