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J Music Ther. 2012 Winter;49(4):430-52.

Joint attention responses of children with autism spectrum disorder to simple versus complex music.

Author information

1
University of Miami, United Cerebral Palsy of Miami, USA.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Joint attention deficits are viewed as one of the earliest manifestations and most characteristic features of the social deficits in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

PURPOSE:

The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of simple versus complex music on joint attention of children with ASD.

METHOD:

Thirty children with a diagnosis of ASD participated in this study. Fifteen of the participants were diagnosed with severe ASD and 15 were diagnosed with mild/moderate ASD. Each participant took part in six, 10-minute individual music conditions (3 simple & 3 complex) over a 3-week period. Each condition was designed to elicit responses to joint attention.

RESULTS:

RESULTS indicated a statistically significant interaction between music modality and functioning level. Therefore, the effect of simple versus complex music was dependent on functioning level. Specifically, the Simple Music Condition was more effective in eliciting Responses to Joint Attention (RJA) for children diagnosed with severe ASD, whereas the Complex Music Condition was more effective in eliciting RJA for children diagnosed with mild/moderate ASD.

CONCLUSIONS:

The results of the present study indicate that for children in the severe range of functioning, music that is simple, with clear and predictable pattems, may be most effective in eliciting responses to bids for joint attention. On the contrary, for children in the mild/moderate range of functioning, music that is more complex and variable may be most effective in eliciting responses to bids for joint attention. These results demonstrate that careful manipulation of specific musical elements can help provide the optimal conditions for facilitating joint attention with children with ASD.

PMID:
23705346
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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