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The Effectiveness of Mirroring- and Rhythm-Based Interventions for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder: a Systematic Review

Abstract

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is characterised as a neurodevelopmental disorder that has continuing deficits in communication skills and social development. Utilising techniques known as mirroring and rhythm, Dance and Movement Therapy (DMT) has shown beneficial effects in the autistic population reducing such deficits. However, no review to date has investigated these individual techniques outside the practice of DMT. This systematic review of studies published between 1975 and 2020 aims to evaluate the effectiveness of both mirroring and rhythm as interventions that target communication skills and social development in children diagnosed with ASD. Out of 1369 relevant articles, 11 met the inclusion criteria. All studies showed beneficial effects of mirroring and rhythm for communication skills and social development in children diagnosed with ASD. Therefore, incorporating these techniques into new interventions and practice may offer substantial therapeutic benefits for autistic children.

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PM designed, co-ordinated, and prepared this systematic literature review; performed the literature search; and compiled the results of the search. PM also drafted the original manuscript. EH completed the second literature search in order to obtain inter-rater reliability. EH, TF, and JPM helped to critically revise the work, and PM edited the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Phoebe Morris.

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The first author, Phoebe Morris, is currently in the first year of her PhD programme at the University of Essex, studying towards a Doctorate in Sports Psychology. Dr Edward Hope, Dr Tom Foulsham and her PhD supervisor, Dr John P. Mills, all currently reside in the UK and work at the University of Essex in a teaching and research capacity. There have been no changes in the author’s affiliation subsequent to the time of the study. This systematic review forms the initial part of the first author’s doctoral dissertation and is the first paper she has submitted for peer review.

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Morris, P., Hope, E., Foulsham, T. et al. The Effectiveness of Mirroring- and Rhythm-Based Interventions for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder: a Systematic Review. Rev J Autism Dev Disord (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40489-021-00236-z

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Keywords

  • Autism spectrum disorders
  • Mirroring
  • Rhythm
  • Communication
  • Social development