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Real-time 3D Graphic Augmentation of Therapeutic Music Sessions for People on the Autism Spectrum

McGowan, John Joseph



This thesis looks at the requirements analysis, design, development and evaluation of an application, CymaSense, as a means of improving the communicative behaviours of autistic participants through therapeutic music sessions, via the addition of a visual modality. Autism spectrum condition (ASC) is a lifelong neurodevelopmental disorder that can affect people in a number of ways, commonly through difficulties in communication. Interactive audio-visual feedback can be an effective way to enhance music therapy for people on the autism spectrum. A multi-sensory approach encourages musical engagement within clients, increasing levels of communication and social interaction beyond the sessions.
Cymatics describes a resultant visualised geometry of vibration through a variety of mediums, typically through salt on a brass plate or via water. The research reported in this thesis focuses on how an interactive audio-visual application, based on Cymatics, might improve communication for people on the autism spectrum.
A requirements analysis was conducted through interviews with four therapeutic music practitioners, aimed at identifying working practices with autistic clients. CymaSense was designed for autistic users in exploring effective audio-visual feedback, and to develop meaningful cross-modal mappings of musical practitioner-client communication. CymaSense mappings were tested by 17 high functioning autistic participants, and by 30 neurotypical participants. The application was then trialled as a multimodal intervention for eight participants with autism, over a 12-week series of therapeutic music sessions. The study captured the experiences of the users and identified behavioural changes as a result, including information on how CymaSense could be developed further. This dissertation contributes evidence that multimodal applications can be used within therapeutic music sessions as a tool to increase communicative behaviours for autistic participants.

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Dec 10, 2019
Publicly Available Date Dec 10, 2019
Keywords music therapy; interactive audio-visual application; autism spectrum condition; communication behaviours; multi-sensory approach; cymatics
Public URL
Award Date Oct 30, 2019


Real-time 3D Graphic Augmentation of Therapeutic Music Sessions for People on the Autism Spectrum (9.6 Mb)

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