Can a Music and Movement Programme Strengthen Empathy in Children with Autism? Analyzing a Case Study


  • MARIA BELLA PhD, Adapted Physical Educator
  • Zoi Sipsa Adapted physical educator


Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders have difficulty recognizing subtle expressions of their feelings or identifying and understanding various other states of emotion expressed by others and knowing what to say in different situations. Both music and movement is a relatively new educational strategy which can help them to increase empathy. The purpose of this study was to examine the effects that a music and movement programme can have to the ability to recognize and understand feelings in various playing conditions a six-year-old young girl diagnosed with autism. The research took place at a private creative center of children with disabilities in northern Greece. The study analyzed data collected during an eight-week intervention programme, four days a week, and 45 minutes per session. Behavior ratings reflected some uneven progress over the eight weeks, but significant improvements in the targeted three emotional behaviors were exhibited by the sixth week of training. The behavior checklist appeared to be an effective tool for assessing the emotional behavior of a young girl diagnosed with autism. This programme creates a safe environment in which these children can experience emotions that do not truly belong to them and to use their imaginations to create a reality that is almost true, in order to see outside of themselves, confront stressful situations, and form positive attitudes and skills necessary for growth.