Music therapy as social skill intervention for children with comorbid ASD and ID: Study protocol for a randomized controlled trial

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Abstract

Background: Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental impairment characterized by persistent deficits in social communication and interactions, and over half of children with ASD possess below average intellectual ability (IQ < 85). The social development and response to social skill interventions among children with ASD and comorbid intellectual disability (ID) is not well understood. Music therapy is a systematic process of intervention, wherein a therapist may help clients promote their social skills by using musical experience. The proposed study will address limited research evidence on music therapy as an intervention for social functioning in children with ASD with mild to borderline ID.
Method: A randomized controlled trial (RCT) with two parallel groups of 40 children each (1:1 allocation ratio) is planned. Participants will receive 45 min of music therapy or non-musical intervention targeting social skills once a week for 12 weeks. Primary outcome measures will be independent ratings on the Childhood Autism Rating Scale and parent ratings on the Social Responsiveness Scale-2. Linear mixed-effects models for these two outcome measures will be created for data collected at 2-week pre-intervention, 2-week post-intervention, and 4-month post-intervention sessions. In-session behaviors at the first and last intervention will be videotaped and coded offline and compared. Pretreatment neural response of quantitative electroencephalograms (qEEG) to social scenes will be used to predict the outcomes of musical and non-musical social skill interventions, whereas qEEG responses to music will be used to predict the effectiveness of musical social skill intervention.
Discussion: If neural markers of social skill development are found, then the long-term goal is to develop individualized intervention based on pre-treatment markers to maximize treatment efficacy. The proposed study’s results may also suggest directions to development and provision of music therapy services in Hong Kong.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov (NCT04557488). Registered September 21, 2020. Copyright © 2020 The Author(s).
Original languageEnglish
Article number545
JournalBMC Pediatrics
Volume20
Early online date05 Dec 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Citation

Yum, Y. N., Lau, W. K.-W., Poon, K., & Ho, F. C. (2020). Music therapy as social skill intervention for children with comorbid ASD and ID: Study protocol for a randomized controlled trial. BMC Pediatrics, 20. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1186/s12887-020-02454-6

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