Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 9, Issue 3, pp 279–285 | Cite as

Measuring musical abilities of autistic children

  • Edward Applebaum
  • Andrew L. Egel
  • Robert L. Koegel
  • Barbara Imhoff
Brief Report


Three normal children with reported musical ability and three autistic children were tested for the ability to imitate individual tones and series of tones delivered by voice, piano, and synthesizer. Accuracy of imitation was judged by two independent observers on the basis of pitch, rhythm, and duration. The autistic children overall performed as well as or better than the age-matched normal children. These results are discussed and their implications for future neurological and clinical research are considered.


Clinical Research Independent Observer Normal Child Autistic Child Musical Ability 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Baker, L., Cantwell, D., Rutter, M., & Bartak, L. Language and autism. In E. R. Ritvo (Ed.),Autism: Diagnosis, Current research and management. Holliswood, New York: Spectrum, 1976.Google Scholar
  2. Blackstock, E. G. Cerebral asymmetry and the development of early infantile autism.Journal of Autism and Childhood Schizophrenia, 1978,8, 339–353.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Bogen, J. The other side of the brain II: An appositional mind.Bulletin of the Los Angeles Neurological Societies, 1969,34, 135–162.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Cain, A. Special “isolated” abilities in severely psychotic young children.Psychiatry, 1969,32, 137–149.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Davies, J. B.The psychology of music. Palo Alto: Stanford University Press, 1978.Google Scholar
  6. Gordon, E.Musical aptitude profile. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1965.Google Scholar
  7. Gordon, E. Toward the development of a taxonomy of tonal patterns and rhythm patterns: Evidence of difficulty level and growth rates. InResearch in the psychology of music (Vol. 1). Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 1974.Google Scholar
  8. Gordon, E.Learning sequence and patterns in music. Chicago: GIA Publications, 1976.Google Scholar
  9. Hindemith, P.Elementary training for musicians. New York: Associated Music Publishers, 1946.Google Scholar
  10. Kimura, D. The asymmetry of the human brain.Scientific American, 1973,228(3), 70–78.Google Scholar
  11. Rimland, B.Infantile autism. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1964.Google Scholar
  12. Rimland, B. Inside the mind of the autistic savant.Psychology Today, 1978,12, 68–80.Google Scholar
  13. Sherwin, A. C. Reactions to music of autistic (schizophrenic) children.American Journal of Psychiatry, 1953,109, 823–831.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Shuter, R.The psychology of musical ability. London: Methuen, 1968.Google Scholar
  15. Spitzer, R. C., Endicott, J., & Robins, E.Research diagnostic criteria for a selected group of functional disorders (1st ed.). New York: New York State Department of Mental Hygiene, 1975.Google Scholar
  16. Springer, S. Tachistoscopic and dichotic-listening investigations of laterality in normal human subjects. In S. Harnad, R. Doty, L. Goldstein, J. Jaynes, & G. Krauthamer (Eds.),Lateralization in the nervous system. New York: Academic Press, 1977.Google Scholar
  17. Tanguay, P. Clinical and electrophysiological research. In E. R. Ritvo (Ed.),Autism: Diagnosis, current research and management. Holliswood, New York: Spectrum, 1976.Google Scholar
  18. Viscott, D. A musical idiot savant: A psychodynamic study and some speculations on the creative process.Psychiatry, 1970,33, 494–515.PubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1979

Authors and Affiliations

  • Edward Applebaum
    • 1
  • Andrew L. Egel
    • 1
  • Robert L. Koegel
    • 1
  • Barbara Imhoff
    • 1
  1. 1.Music DepartmentUniversity of CaliforniaSanta Barbara

Personalised recommendations