Date of Award

Summer 8-2022

Degree Type


Degree Name

EdD Education Leadership, Management and Policy


Education Leadership, Management and Policy


Michael Kuchar, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Christopher Teinken, Ed.D.

Committee Member

Brian Zychowski, Ph.D.


music-infused, Autism, Social Skills, Communication Skills, Autism Spectrum Disorder


Given the nationwide increase in the diagnosis of autism, particularly in the pediatric population, there is obvious value in examining the effectiveness of intervention methods. This research sought to examine the effectiveness of a music-infused approach combined with Applied Behavioral Analysis methodology. The exploratory mixed method design pilot study examined and comprehended the narratives of special education early childhood teachers assigned and trained to deliver a music-infused intervention program within a natural self-contained Applied Behavioral Analysis program, five days a week, 20 minutes a day, for a duration of 6 weeks to a population of ten preschool students, ages 3-5, diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. Two self-contained classes were assigned as the treatment groups and one preschool self-contained classroom served as the control group. Emphasis was placed on the perceptions of the pre and post semi-structured interviews of the special education early childhood teachers. Evidence was examined through a quantitative source to build a coherent justification for the coded themes established adding to the validity of this study.

Interview perception questions for the special education early teachers focused on the following areas: (1) contribution of music, if at all, to communication and social learning in a self-contained class with preschool children diagnosed with autism, (2) do music activities infused with ABA strategies improve social and or communication skills, and (3) when instructed with music-infused ABA lessons do preschool children diagnosed with autism communicate or socialize more with their peers. Based on the findings of the study, music-infused ABA strategies interventions in self-contained classrooms is effective for improving social group building skills and communication skills, supporting the individual discrete trials of Applied Behavioral Analysis instruction. The study showed that when musical stimuli (beanbags and instruments) were present, preschoolers diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder were able to express music in the following ways: imitation, using their voice, improvising with a musical instrument, and dancing. The special education early childhood teachers reported that music-infused activities in the ABA self-contained classroom is effective in encouraging improved joint attention, strengthening cognitive abilities, building motor skills, and developing emotions and self-regulations. The widely held perception of the teachers who were interviewed commented that it is appropriate to use music infused with ABA strategies in the self-contained preschool programs as it was an effective intervention for 6 weeks showing some improvement in social and communication skills in a more naturalistic approach to learning similar to interactive music making in general education preschool classrooms.