Dr Daphne Rickson from Victoria University’s New Zealand School of Music

A Victoria University of Wellington academic has been awarded nearly $100,000 in funding to research the effectiveness of music therapy for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

The New Zealand IHC Foundation funded-project, led by Dr Daphne Rickson from Victoria’s New Zealand School of Music, will explore the potential of music therapy for 10 New Zealand children with ASD.

Dr Rickson says there is a need in New Zealand and internationally for studies that provide hard evidence about the impact music therapy can have on the development of a child’s interpersonal communication skills. These skills include attention, imitation, initiation, turn-taking and/or emotional expression.

“We know that music therapy is beneficial for children with ASD, but the nature of the therapy makes it difficult to provide evidence of this. By working alongside music therapists, we will develop a strong set of data that includes written reports and video, which can be further analysed to determine how effective music therapy can be,” says Dr Rickson.

“The most important part of this research is that we want more children with autism to receive music therapy. This research project will provide more evidence to argue the case for its place in the treatment of children with ASD.”

Read more about the project on Victoria University’s website here.

The IHC Foundation has also funded the NZSM’s ACTIVE MUSIC research project which you can read about here.