Avergan Foundation

Music Therapy and Autism Spectrum Disorders


May 14


We are so excited to share a post today about Music Therapy and how it is helping children on the autism spectrum disorder.  Our special thanks to Kerry Cornelius for contacting us and asking how she could help Avergan Foundation.  Stayed tuned because we’ll have a special announcement coming soon that includes Kerry in an upcoming event for Avergan Foundation!



Music Therapy and Autism Spectrum Disorders

Kerry Cornelius, MT-BC

 kerry cornelius photo

What is music therapy?


Music therapy is an established healthcare profession that has been used in a variety of settings for a range of populations since the 1940s. It is the clinical and evidence-based use of music as a tool to facilitate non-musical changes; much like speech language pathologists and occupational therapists, music therapists are a critical part of the multidisciplinary treatment team. Music therapists are skilled at creating and adapting creative music therapy interventions for individuals of all ages and abilities.


Who are music therapists?


Music therapists are credentialed professionals who have completed:

  • A music therapy program at an accredited university
  • 1200 hours of supervised fieldwork at a clinical internship site
  • A national board certification exam with a passing score


Music therapists hold the credential MT-BC, or Music Therapist-Board Certified.


Where do music therapists work?


In public school systems, music therapy is considered a related service that can provide a significant assist in achieving IEP goals and objectives for eligible children.

Did you know that there are THREE music therapists providing individual and group music therapy services in Anne Arundel County Public Schools?


You can also find music therapists working in early intervention programs, day care centers, group homes, private practice, hospitals and community organizations.


How can music therapy help individuals with autism spectrum disorders?


Music can be a powerful tool for increasing motivation, engagement and socialization, especially for children with autism. Music triggers strong chemical reactions in our brains, which can lead to increased production of “happy” chemicals like serotonin, which plays a role in regulating body functions like mood and sleep cycles, as well as dopamine, which is responsible for feelings of motivation and satisfaction.


Potential music therapy goal areas:

  • Socialization
  • Communication
  • Self-Expression/Self-Advocacy
  • Self-Regulation
  • Sensory Integration
  • Relaxation/Anxiety Reduction
  • Academic and Pre-Academic Skills


What does music therapy look like?


For some children, individual sessions with one on one attention, minimal distractions and child-directed activities are the best choice. Many times, children with behavioral difficulties benefit more from this highly structured environment before transitioning to a group music therapy setting. Group music therapy can simulate social situations through musical games and activities and provide opportunities to practice and develop social skills with peers. Music therapy sessions can also address mental health goals such as self-expression and developing appropriate coping skills through the use of songwriting and lyric analysis activities.


I want my child to receive music therapy services. What do I do?


There are many ways to locate a music therapist! You can go to www.cbmt.org to look up a board certified music therapist by state (or if you want to confirm that a professional has recognized credentials). If you want your child to receive music therapy services in their school, reach out to your child’s IEP team and ask about scheduling a music therapy assessment.


You can also contact Shiloh Center Music Therapy Services, LLC, a private music therapy practice based right here in Anne Arundel County! Our team of board certified music therapists provide in-home and facility-based music therapy services as well as adapted music lessons for children and adults of all needs and abilities. You can reach us at: shilohcenterllc@gmail.com or www.theshilohcenter.com.


To learn more about music therapy, visit:





Kerry Cornelius, MT-BC, is excited about bringing the healing power of music therapy to Anne Arundel County through Shiloh Center Music Therapy Services (www.theshilohcenter.com). She holds a graduate-level music therapy equivalency certificate from Shenandoah University (2014) as well as a BM in Voice Performance from Towson University (2012). Kerry has worked professionally as a music therapist, preschool music educator, private music teacher and vocalist. She also loves to share original music therapy activity ideas, insights and songs on her blog, Songs for Success, (www.songsforsuccessmt.com)!

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