Music therapy does not alleviate social difficulties in children with autism, suggests a large international study1.
Engaging with music is thought to help children become more flexible, responsive and attentive, leading to better social and communication skills. But participants with autism who received improvisational music therapy scored no better on a standard diagnostic test for the condition than did children with autism who did not get the therapy. The results were published 8 August in JAMA.
Still, researchers should not give up on investigating music’s potential to ease autism features, says lead investigator Christian Gold, professor of music therapy at the University of Bergen in Norway. The study may have missed improvements in a subset of the participants, he says.
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