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Individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are likely to be more sensitive to auditory stimuli than neuro-typically-developing individuals, including having hyperacusis (a heightened reactivity to different frequencies and volumes) and other types of auditory defensiveness, as well as absolute pitch (AP). These abilities can be debilitating for some individuals, thus greatly impacting their capacity to function. Past researchers found that Heidelberg Music Therapy (HMT) was effective in diminishing the severity of auditory defensiveness symptoms (Krick et al., 2017). Given this, we hypothesized that people with ASD would respond well to HMT and show a decrease in their hyperacusis symptom scores after receiving treatment. We also predicted that people with both ASD and AP would show the most significant reduction in hyperacusis symptoms. To test this hypothesis, adolescents (13-17 years old) living with permutations of hyperacusis, ASD, and AP will be given two interviews (Hyperacusis Diagnostic Interview; Hyperacusis Interview [HI]), each assessing the severity of hyperacusis. A music therapist will administer a 50-minute HMT session for five weekdays, twice a day. At the end of the five days, both interviews will be administered again to determine differences in the severity of symptoms. A 2 by 3 analysis of variance (ANOVA) will then be used to test for differences in the sum scores provided by the HI, with factors of time and group. If successful, these results can have implications; they will highlight the auditory advantages of individuals who fall on the autism spectrum. Furthermore, these results can expand approaches to treatment for individuals with ASD, especially those with hyperacusis.
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Sinclair, Shania Mary, "Helping Adolescents with Autism: Can Music Therapy Counteract the Effects of Hyperacusis" (2019). Senior Projects Spring 2019. 21.