A Pilot Study on the Efficacy of Melodic Based Communication Therapy for Eliciting Speech in Nonverbal Children with Autism

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to compare the efficacy of Melodic Based Communication Therapy (MBCT) to traditional speech and language therapy for eliciting speech in nonverbal children with autism. Participants were 12 nonverbal children with autism ages 5 through 7 randomly assigned to either treatment group. Both groups made significant progress after treatment. The MBCT group progressed significantly in number of verbal attempts after weeks 1 through 4 and number of correct words after weeks 1 and 3, while the traditional group progressed significantly after weeks 4 and 5. No significant differences in number of verbal attempts or number of correct words were noted between groups following treatment. A significant number of new words were heard in the home environment for the MBCT group (p = .04). Participants in the MBCT group had more imitative attempts (p = .03). MBCT appears to be a valid form of intervention for children with autism.

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Acknowledgments

Funding from the Communication Sciences and Disorders and Rehabilitation Sciences Departments at Loma Linda University supported this research. We are grateful to the families who participated in this research and to the talented and patient Loma Linda University Communication Sciences and Disorders graduate students who were involved in the providing of therapy, Brittany Masai, Jordan Shimamura, Ryan Forgette, Christine DerDanielian, Jennifer Diaz, and Cassie Richardson. We also thank the Sachs Norton Clinic for the use of their speech therapy rooms for the duration of the study. Special thanks to pediatric neurologist Dr. Sarah Roddy and neuroscientist Dr. Ernie Schwab for their invaluable advice on the neurology of the brain as well as their supportive role in planning and designing this study. Special thanks, as well, to statistician Dr. Grenith Zimmerman for her invaluable support in the design and planning phases of this study. Special thanks to musicians Alan-Pierre Eloi (Alleykat Entertainment Inc.) and Shannon Hicks, for their role in making MBCT a reality. Special thanks to the first author’s family and friends for their support and prayers throughout the duration of this study. God is able.

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Correspondence to Givona A. Sandiford.

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Sandiford, G.A., Mainess, K.J. & Daher, N.S. A Pilot Study on the Efficacy of Melodic Based Communication Therapy for Eliciting Speech in Nonverbal Children with Autism. J Autism Dev Disord 43, 1298–1307 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-012-1672-z

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Keywords

  • Autism
  • Nonverbal
  • Children
  • Efficacy
  • Treatment
  • Music