The body communicates: Movement synchrony during music therapy with children diagnosed with ASD

Tamar Dvir, Nava Lotan, Roni Viderman, Cochavit Elefant

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) have difficulties with social communication and relational interactions as well as repetitive and stereotypical movements. Based on the assumption that movement synchrony can be used to enhance social skills, this study examines the synchrony of body rhythms between children with ASD and their music therapists. A computerized diagnostic for calculating body synchrony characteristics, based on the Kestenberg Movement Profile, was developed. Data collection took place over a period of 20 weeks. The participants had been recruited for a large international controlled trial study where ‘improvisational music therapy’ was used as music therapy approach. The methods in the current study included microanalysis of video footage of nineteen 4- to 6-year-old children diagnosed with ASD. The results revealed higher levels of synchrony between the therapists and children when the latter were using repetitive rhythmicity that occurred 2 or more times per second. At the end of the treatment, there was no significant change in autistic symptoms and in the children's ability to synchronize with the therapists, although the therapists were significantly more synchronize with the children. We discuss the possible role of music therapists in promoting experiences for children through the use of basic body rhythmicity patterns.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101658
JournalArts in Psychotherapy
StatePublished - May 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Elsevier Ltd


  • Attunement
  • Body rhythms
  • Improvisational music and dance/movement therapy
  • Kestenberg Movement Profile (KMP)
  • Movement synchrony

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Professions (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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