According to the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA)...
"Music therapy is an established healthcare profession that uses music to address physical, emotional, cognitive and social needs of individuals of all ages."
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.
Board Certified Music Therapists (MT-BCs) assess emotional well-being, physical health, social functioning, communication abilities, and cognitive skills through musical responses; design music sessions for individuals and groups based on client needs using music improvisation, receptive music listening, song writing, lyric discussion, music and imagery, music performance, and learning through music; participate in interdisciplinary treatment planning, ongoing evaluation, and follow up.