Can an inclusive school-based music program enhance social inclusion and self-esteem of adolescents on the autism spectrum?
Co-Authors:Servant, Dahary, Ghoul, Labrèche, & Quintin
Virtual or In-person:Virtual
Background: Group music-making is a cooperative structured activity that provides a unique opportunity for social inclusion and support where people with and without disability work as a team to reach a common goal (i.e., music-making). Music programs are also associated with gains in self-esteem of adolescents and young adults on the Autism Spectrum (AS).
Objectives: This study aimed to investigate the impact of an inclusive (vs. non-inclusive) music program on indices of social inclusion, i.e., peer acceptance and social support, and on self-esteem.
Methods: This high school-based music-making study involved 49 adolescents (23 autistic, 26 non-autistic) divided into AS, non-AS, and two inclusive groups. Over 16 weeks, they co-created music and learned djembe and percussion. Pre- and post-program assessments included the Social Support Appraisals Scale and Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale for all, and the Shared Activities Questionnaire for non-AS students, measuring peer acceptance.
Results: A repeated measures mixed ANOVA revealed a significant interaction effect between self-esteem scores and condition, such that scores of students on the AS were statistically significantly higher at post-intervention compared to pre-intervention for the non-inclusive group (M = 2.71, SE = 0.60, p < .001) as well as for the inclusive group (M = 5.00, SE = .42, p < .001) with the change more pronounced in the inclusive group.
Conclusions: This research supports the development of a novel line of inclusive interventions that may have beneficial effects for AS and beyond and set the stage for the implementation of music programs in family, educational, community, and mental health settings.