Date of Completion


Embargo Period



Linda Neelly, Linda Pescatello

Field of Study



Master of Science

Open Access

Open Access


Background: Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) present with multiple comorbidities in addition to their primary impairments. These comorbidities include difficulties with affective states as well as motor problems such as poor interpersonal synchrony and poor praxis on imitation. In the present study, I examined the effects of two types of rhythmic interventions, music and robot, on the affective states and motor skills of children with ASDs as compared to the traditional standard of care intervention. Methods: Thirty-six children with ASDs between 5 and 12 years were randomly assigned to one of three groups: music, robot, or academic. All children received 16 training sessions across 8 weeks in music-, robot-, or academic-based contexts. Children were assessed pre- and post-training on a standardized test of praxis performance as well as during training for task-specific synchronous actions and affective states. Results: Children in the music group showed the most positive affect, followed by the academic group, and then the robot group. Both music and robot groups showed similar levels of disinterest or negative affect and the academic group showed the highest levels of interested affect. In terms of motor behavior, the music group increased their in-synchrony with training. In the standardized praxis test, all three groups showed a trend for decrease in the total number of praxis errors post-training. The music group showed a significant decrease in the amount of time to best effort post-training. Conclusions: Music-based interventions increased positive affect as well as motor skills and could be a promising intervention tool for children with ASDs.

Major Advisor

Anjana Bhat