Date of Completion

Spring 5-12-2021

Thesis Advisor(s)

Sudha Srinivasan

Honors Major

Allied Health Sciences


Objective: Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability affecting 1 in 54 children in the US today. This thesis investigates whether music-based whole-body movement games are effective in improving the motor and social skills of children with ASD. A secondary aim of the thesis is to investigate any differences in the improvement of these individuals by delivery mode, face-to-face or via telehealth.

Methods: 9 children with ASD diagnoses underwent training for 8 weeks with 2 sessions delivered per week using music, dance, and yoga-based activities that were focused on imitation, synchrony, multi limb coordination, and balance in a synchronous fashion within a small group format. 5 children received interventions face-to-face. 4 children received interventions via telehealth platforms (i.e. Zoom, Webex). Children were tested at pretests and posttests on the BOT-2 Test of Motor Proficiency, a standardized test of motor performance and the JoinT Attention Test (JTAT) which assesses the child’s ability to share attention with an examiner. Dependent t tests were used at a significance level of 0.05.

Results: Results showed significant improvements in the bilateral coordination (p < 0.001), running speed (p = 0.018) and strength (p = 0.003) subtests from pretest to posttest, but not in the balance and upper limb coordination subtests of the BOT-2. Results did not show significant improvement in the JTAT. There were no significant differences in the improvements between delivery modes across children seen face-to-face versus via telehealth.

Conclusions: The results show promise for the use of movement games and music programs for the improvement of motor deficiencies in children with ASD. Moreover, our preliminary data suggest that the telehealth mode of intervention delivery seems to be a feasible and effective mode of instruction for children with ASD and their families.