Music Therapy with Children who have Autism Spectrum Conditions in New Zealand – An Appreciative Acknowledgement

Daphne Rickson
PhD, MMusTher, MHealSc (MenH), NZ RMTh
Victoria University of Wellington – Te Herenga Waka, New Zealand School of Music, Te Kōkī


Autism; research journey; research community; collaboration; vignettes from practice

Editorial Notes
This “Community Voices” collaborative article has been submitted to an open, single peer review process.


This paper describes the evolution and outcome of a research journey spanning six years. It is a discursive document rather than a research report, offered to inform, appreciate and celebrate the many children, family members, New Zealand music therapists, allied health professionals, educators, and other experts who participated in a contemporary study and the exploratory research that preceded it. I begin by discussing the impetus for the exploratory research, before sharing the ways in which the findings informed the larger study. The latter involved ten music therapists each working for up to one year with a child with an autism spectrum condition who had not had music therapy before. At the end of that year they produced their case material (descriptions, photographs, videos), not as data to be analysed, but artefacts for “evaluators” to appraise. The primary focus of this paper will be on the music therapy practice that was presented, with brief reference to the ways in which the evaluators perceived the work. I conclude by discussing the ways in which published findings might increase the potential for increased access to music therapy for children with autism spectrum conditions.

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