A Systematic Review of Scientific Studies on the Effects of Music in People with or at Risk for Autism Spectrum Disorder
Applewhite B., Cankaya Z., Heiderscheit A., Himmerich H.
The prevalence of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) is globally increasing, and the current available interventions show variable success. Thus, there is a growing interest in additional interventions such as music therapy (MT). Therefore, we aimed to provide a comprehensive and systematic review of music and people with, or at risk of, ASD. We used the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis (PRISMA) guidelines and used PubMed, PsycINFO, and Web of Science as databases, with “music”, “music therapy”, “autism spectrum disorder”, and “ASD” as search terms. Among the identified and screened articles, 81 out of 621 qualified as scientific studies involving a total of 43,353 participants. These studies investigated the peculiarities of music perception in people with ASD, as well as the effects of music and MT in this patient group. Most of the music-based interventions were beneficial in improving social, emotional, and behavioural problems. However, the availability of studies utilizing a rigorous randomized controlled trial (RCT) design was scarce. Most of the studies had a small sample size, and the applied therapeutic and scientific research methods were heterogeneous.