Voices Together: Music Therapy and Autism in Elementary Schools (2014-2015)

This project team is a partnership with Voices Together, a nonprofit venture that pioneered an anecdotally highly successful music therapy intervention for children and adults with autism. The project team took this intervention into local primary schools and conducted the first rigorous analysis of its impact on younger children, particularly as it relates to their communication and verbal skill development.

The study was designed to assess the efficacy of the Voices Together music therapy program for improving social and communication skills among elementary school age children diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder or other developmental/intellectual disabilities. The Voices Together method combines an engaging music-based therapy with evidence-based educational and specialized therapeutic techniques. This therapy has been used in Durham Public Schools special education classrooms for six years and serves five other school districts in the Triangle area. The method uses interactive “talking songs” to increase communication, social and emotional learning.

Within each grade level, classrooms were randomly assigned to one of two groups. Teacher report outcome measures were taken at three time points. Behavioral observation outcome measures were taken at two time points. Parents and teachers provided informed consent. Analyses were in progress to assess the effects of the Voices Together program on communication, assertion and engagement, as well as on outcome measures derived from behavioral coding.



Team Outcomes

Jenna Mendelson, Yasmine White, Laura Hans, Richard Adebari, Lorrie Schmid, Jan Riggsbee, Ali Goldsmith, Burcu Ozler, Kristen Buehne, Sarah Jones, Jennifer Shapleton, Geraldine Dawson. 2016. “A Preliminary Investigation of a Specialized Music Therapy Model for Children with Disabilities Delivered in a Classroom Setting.” Autism Research and Treatment.

Connecting with Voices Together (poster)

This Team in the News

Voices Together

See related team, Voices Together: Music Therapy and Autism in Elementary Schools (2015-2016).

Team Leaders

  • Geri Dawson, School of Medicine-Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
  • Laura Hans, Social Science Research Institute
  • Jan Riggsbee, Arts & Sciences-Program in Education
  • Carol Ripple, Social Science Research Institute

/undergraduate Team Members

  • Kristen Buehne, Biology (BS), Religion (AB2)
  • Sarah Jones, Psychology (AB)

/zcommunity Team Members

  • Yasmine White, Voices Together