Background: The existing methodological weakness in conducted researches concerning music therapy (MT) for children with autism led to ambiguity and confusion in this scope of studies. The aim of the present research is to identify the effectiveness of MT method in improving social skills of children with autism and its stability, as well.
Materials and methods: In the form of a clinical trial study with design of pretest/posttest/follow-up with control group, among the children with autism in community of Tehran city, on the basis of childhood autism rating scale, 27 children with mild to moderate autism were chosen and were divided into two groups of experiment (n = 13), and control (n = 14). Social skills' level of both groups was measured and recorded with the help of social skills rating system scale. The children of the experiment group participated in MT programs of Orff-Schulwerk for 45 days in 12 sessions (two sessions of 1-h/week), whereas the control group received no intervention. The data were analyzed with Statistic Package For Social Science (SPSS) software t-test and analysis of covariance was used to compare groups.
Results: In posttest, the results of covariance analysis showed a significant increase in social skills' scores of the experiment group (P < 0.001). Also, results of the paired-sample t-test showed that the effectiveness of MT has been persistent up to the follow-up phase.
Conclusions: The study showed that MT is an effective method with deep and consistent effects on improving social skills of children with autism.
Keywords: Autism; music therapy; social skills.