An exploration of the synergies, parallels, and divergences between ESDM and music therapy with preschool children with autism, in a music therapy student’s practice.
This qualitative research explores the possibility of an interaction between music therapy and the Early Start Denver Model with preschool children with autism spectrum disorder. Both interventions have been shown to be effective at improving social, emotional and communication skills in young autistic children, and share some use of music and some focus on developmental goals. My findings were generated from Secondary Analysis of Data using my qualitative clinical notes and reflective thoughts from a music therapy setting and an Early Start Denver Model setting. I focused on my use of music in sessions at each setting and found three main themes in the data – building a therapeutic relationship; singing to engage, with primary and secondary focus on the music; and moment of discomfort. A large proportion of my data related to using music to build a positive therapeutic relationship with the child, which is necessary to achieve both the wider goals typical of a music therapy setting and the more specific goals of the Early Start Denver Model setting. My data also showed that the humanistic approach of music therapy and the behavioural approach of the Early Start Denver model created tension in my practice in both settings. My research concluded that there are parallels and synergies which could positively inform each intervention but there may be too many divergences to create one cohesive therapy, due to their differences in approach.