Using embedded music therapy interventions to support outdoor play of young children with autism in an inclusive community-based child care program

J Music Ther. Winter 2006;43(4):270-94. doi: 10.1093/jmt/43.4.270.


For young children with autism enrolled in community-based inclusive child care programs, outdoor play can be a major challenge. The aim of this music therapy intervention was to improve peer interactions and meaningful play on the playground for four boys with autism by adding an outdoor music center and using original songs composed for each participant. A collaborative approach was used to support the implementation of the intervention by the children's teachers, engaging classroom peers as formal and informal helpers. The effects of the interventions were examined using a multiple baseline design with four conditions replicated across the four children. The results indicate that the musical adaptation of the playground itself did not improve social interactions of children with autism significantly, but it facilitated their play and involvement with peers by attraction to the sound and opportunity to use the instruments. The song interventions produced desirable peer interaction outcomes, and the collaborative consultative approach enabled teachers to implement interventions successfully in ongoing playground routines. In addition, peer-mediated strategies increased peer interactions and meaningful play on the playground.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Autistic Disorder / therapy*
  • Child Care / methods*
  • Child Welfare
  • Child, Preschool
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Male
  • Music Therapy / methods*
  • Peer Group
  • Play and Playthings*