Music Therapy Song Repertoire for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder: A descriptive Analysis by Treatment Areas, Song Types, and Presentation Styles

Edward T. Schwartzberg, M.Ed, MT-BC
Michael J. Silverman, PhD, MT-BC


The purpose of this descriptive study was to identify the song types, presentation styles, and song repertoire utilized within specific treatment areas with children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The researchers sent surveys to 257 music therapists who worked with children between the ages of birth through 19 years diagnosed with ASD. Ninety-one music therapists participated in the survey, resulting in a 35% return rate. The number of participants responding to each question ranged from 72 to 91. Overall, the majority of respondents indicated they utilized more pre-existing songs, followed by original compositions and lyric replacement (piggyback) songs. However, when asked questions about song types used to address specific treatment areas, respondents indicated they utilized live original compositions across all treatment domains more frequently than live pre-existing and live lyric replacement songs. Developing protocols to choose song types may be helpful for the acceptance of music therapy as an evidence-based treatment modality for children with ASD. Future research is warranted to determine the type of songs most conducive to facilitating improvement in specific treatment areas. Implications for clinical practice, educational preparation, and limitations of this study are provided.

Resource/Research Type:
Document Details:
Author: Edward T. Schwartzberg, M.Ed, MT-BC, Michael J. Silverman, PhD, MT-BC
Journal: The Arts in Psychotherapy
Volume: 41
Issue: 3
Publisher Details:
Audio/Video Details:
Subjects: Music therapy
Medical Conditions: Autism spectrum disorder
Art Form / Modality: Music