According to the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA),
Music therapy uses music as the therapeutic stimulus to achieve non-musical treatment goals. Research supports connections between speech and singing, rhythm and motor behavior, memory for song and memory for academic material, and overall ability of preferred music to enhance mood, attention, and behavior to optimize the student’s ability to learn and interact. Therefore, one of the purposes of music therapy for students with autism is to provide the individual with an initial assist using melodic and rhythmic strategies, followed by fading of musical cues to aid in generalization and transfer to other environments.
Music holds universal appeal. It provides a bridge in a non-threatening setting between people and/or between individuals and their environment, facilitating relationships, learning, self-expression and communication. Music captures and helps maintain attention. It is highly motivating and may be used as a natural “reinforcer” for desired responses.