Anglia Ruskin Research Online (ARRO)
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Music therapist collaboration with teaching assistants for facilitating verbal development in young children with special needs

posted on 2023-08-30, 14:53 authored by Jo Tomlinson
A mixed methods research investigation was carried out to evaluate the development of verbal skills in young children with special needs receiving music therapy from a qualified therapist, and additional music sessions carried out by teaching assistants (TAs). Qualitative data was gathered to support the quantitative video analysis results. The music therapist set up music sessions for the TAs to carry out independently, to assess whether this collaboration enhanced the development of the children’s verbal skills. Eight children aged four to eight years attending a special school were selected to participate. Half of the children were randomly allocated weekly individual music therapy sessions for 24 weeks, and the remaining children received weekly individual music therapy sessions plus a weekly music session with a TA for 24 weeks. The music therapist met regularly with the TAs to exchange information, and to demonstrate musical and singing concepts for each individual child through sharing video material. The video data from both music therapy and music sessions with TAs in sessions 3 and 22 were analysed using a time-sampling method to assess progress in verbal and social interaction. The vocal scores were extracted from this data and a statistical analysis carried out on these figures. In addition, parents of the children and the TAs took part in interviews pre- and post-intervention to assess the children’s social and verbal development in other contexts. The analysis of the vocal scores indicated that there was a statistically significant difference pre- and post-intervention for the children who had had the additional TA music sessions. This indicated that the collaborative approach was effective in enhancing verbal skills. However, due to the small number of participants, these results cannot be generalised to other situations and a larger scale investigation would need to be carried out to demonstrate more conclusive results. This study suggests that music therapists and TAs in schools can work collaboratively and that this can potentially enhance the progress that children make in music therapy, with reinforcement of verbal development strategies in the class context.



Anglia Ruskin University

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