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Master of Music (MM)
Music Education and Music Therapy (Music)
Date of Defense
First Committee Member
Teresa L. Lesiuk
Second Committee Member
Third Committee Member
Shannon K. de l'Etoile
Fourth Committee Member
Edward P. Asmus
The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of simple versus complex music on joint attention of children with ASD. Thirty children with a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) participated in this study, 15 with a diagnosis of Severe ASD and 15 with a diagnosis of Mild/Moderate ASD. Each participant took part in six, 10-minute individual music conditions over a three-week period, each designed to elicit responses to joint attention. The two music conditions, Simple Music versus Complex Music, were differentiated by the level of complexity in the melody, harmony, rhythm, and accompaniment. One half of the participants received three sessions of the Simple Music Condition the first week followed by a week of no treatment, followed by three sessions of the Complex Music Condition the next week. One half of the participants received three sessions of the Complex music condition the first week, followed by a week of no treatment, followed by three sessions of the Simple Music Condition the next week. The dependent variable of responding to a bid for joint attention (RJA) was analyzed in a mixed design ANOVA. Results indicated no statistically significant difference between functioning groups, controlling for music modality, F (1, 28) = 2.135, p = 0.155. Therefore, no main effect emerged for functioning level on RJA scores. Results also indicated no statistically significant difference between the simple and complex RJA scores, controlling for functioning level, F (1, 28) = 0.330, p = 0.570. Therefore, no main effect emerged for music modality on RJA scores. Results indicated a statistically significant interaction between music modality and functioning level, F (1, 28) = 20.089, p < 0.01. Therefore, the effect of simple versus complex music was dependent on functioning level. Specifically, the Simple Music Condition was more effective in eliciting RJA for children diagnosed with Severe ASD, whereas the Complex Music Condition was more effective in eliciting RJA for children diagnosed with Mild/Moderate ASD. The results of this study will inform the development of specific and effective therapeutic protocols for increasing joint attention behaviors in both children diagnosed with Severe ASD and children diagnosed with Mild/Moderate ASD.
Kalas, Amy Jeanne, "Joint Attention Responses to Simple Versus Complex Music of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder" (2010). Open Access Theses. 18.