The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of singing versus reading a short story on the short- and long-term reading comprehension of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The principal investigator collected data at three separate one-week summer camps during daily scheduled music therapy groups. Participants (N = 29) were cluster randomized to experimental (sung short story) or active control (read aloud short story) groups. Participants completed five comprehension check (CC) questions within five minutes of the story being delivered as well as approximately seven hours later. Main effects for day were statistically significant and there was a significant interaction concerning day by treatment group. Mean CC scores increased from day one to day three for both the control and experimental groups. Initial comprehension on day one might have been enhanced by music but musically induced gains dissipated for days two and three, possibly due to learning effects and repetition of material over the course of three days. The use of a live music-based short story may have resulted in increased cognitive arousal and attention span aiding in immediate and long-term increased comprehension of the experimental group. This hypothesis could both inform future researchers in designing studies concerning music-based interventions to promote reading comprehension and enhance best-practice approaches in classroom and music therapy settings. Implications for clinical practice, limitations, and suggestions for future research are provided.
- Music therapy