Therapeutic Function of Music Elements to Enhance Joint Attention in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

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Patchawan Poopityastaporn
Natee Chiengchana

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to analyze therapeutic functions of music elements used during music therapy sessions to enhance joint attention in children with autism spectrum disorder. Through music therapy interventions delivered by a music therapist such as singing, music instrument playing (e.g., drums, handbell, maracas, piano, or guitar), and dancing, eight music elements, consisting of timbre, rhythm, tempo, pitch/melody, dynamics, lyrics, form, harmony, and style, were analyzed. Video-based observation research design was employed to collect the frequency of joint attention behaviors through music therapy interventions categorized by music elements and activities used to enhance joint attention behaviors of three children with autism spectrum disorder, ages 7 – 10, during their music therapy sessions at the Division of Music Therapy, College of Music, Mahidol University from June 2015 to March 2016. The results of this study showed that the music element most frequently utilized by the music therapist to enhance joint attention behavior in three children with autism spectrum disorder was pitch/melody, followed by lyrics and timbre. These uses of the music elements were observed to occur the most during the instrument playing activities or when the music instrument activities were integrated with other activities. The music elements were presented through preferred songs and music activities that can effectively enhance children’s motivation for joint attention.

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