Graduation Term


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Music (MM)


School of Music

Committee Chair

Andrea AC Crimmins


This study investigated the effects of music therapy intervention on on-task behaviors of early adolescents with autism spectrum disorder and/or intellectual disabilities. A within-subject research design was used with four early adolescents diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder and/or intellectual disabilities from a Junior high school in the United States. Four school-age students from one classroom (N=4, male= 2, female= 2, mean ages =11.75 years) were selected and assigned to attend two alternated treatment conditions: four group non-music therapy sessions (Treatment A) and four group music therapy sessions (Treatment B). A security video camera recorded the duration of on-task behaviors under both conditions during the interventions for data collection. The result indicated that both treatment A and treatment B positively affected on-task behaviors, but music therapy intervention (79.54%) were more effective than non-music interventions (66.60%). A paired samples t-test was used to compare the effective differences of on-task behaviors between Treatment A and Treatment B. Statistical analysis of these data revealed that the duration of on-task behaviors was significantly higher during Music Therapy Interventions (M=79.54, SD=20.25) than that during non-music interventions (M=66.60, SD= 16.10), t(3) = 3.84, p< .05. The t-value of 3.84 was statistically significant as the p value of .031 is <.05. Music therapy can help increase on-task behaviors because it has positive effects for school age students with special needs on the following factors: (1). intrinsic motivation and engagement; (2). sensory integration and reduction of external distractions; (3). brain arousal and attention; (4). instruction understanding and compliance behaviors; (5). executive functions; (6). positive social context; (7). emotional regulation. Based on the findings, it was recommended that teachers, caregivers, and parents of school-age students with autism spectrum disorder and/or intellectual disorders adopt music therapy as a therapeutic strategy to enhance on-task behaviors during the learning process.

KEYWORDS: Music Therapy; On-Task Behavior; Autism Spectrum Disorder; Intellectual Disabilities; Neurodevelopmental Disorder, Adolescents, etc.


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