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Music Therapy With Preschool Children on the Autism Spectrum

Moments of Meeting

224 pages
Teachers College Press

With close to 1 million children on the autism spectrum enrolled in U.S. schools, educators need effective interventions that promote young learners’ abilities and build cohesiveness in complex classroom groups. Drawing upon video recordings from 16 months in a public preschool classroom, this book depicts the emerging relationships and abilities that develop through musical play with children on the autism spectrum. Barnes explores connections among students, teachers, and a music therapist; broader questions about the needs of young children; and the benefits of incorporating music therapy in early childhood education and school-based autism services. In vivid narratives, readers follow individual preschoolers through their challenges and their steps toward shared attention, interpersonal interaction, and communication during music. This important book raises key issues about autism supports and therapies, and offers encouraging alternatives to prevailing educational and therapeutic methods.


  • Chronicles the first two-year research study inside a music therapy group for preschoolers on the spectrum in a U.S. public school.
  • Provides lucid personal portrayals of young children, teachers, and a music therapist.
  • Explores the challenges and encouraging possibilities of helping young children through music.
  • Describes the use of picture schedules, augmentative and alternative communication devices, musical instruments, percussion rhythms, and visual and tactile materials in music sessions.
  • Presents children’s engagement in vocal interplay, turn-taking, theme-and-variation exchanges, and reciprocal expressions of emotion in early childhood education.
Author Bio

Geoff Barnes is an assistant professor of psychology and applied therapies at Lesley University, and the music therapist at the Campus School at Boston College.