Date of Award

Spring 5-18-2024

Document Type


Degree Name

MAE - Master of Arts in Expressive Therapies


Expressive Therapies


Raquel Stephenson


This thesis investigates the effects of an approach to Dance Movement Therapy (DMT) on communication outcomes in nonverbal children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Drawing inspiration from the DMT mirroring method, the research employed a unique methodology throughout five 60-minute group therapy sessions. The participants, five 13-16-year-old students each with a diagnosis of ASD, attended a private school specializing in behavioral and mental disabilities. Each participant presented with varying levels of communication and language impairments, ranging from nonverbal to minimally verbal. The study explores the intersection of ASD and DMT, focusing on how different DMT interventions can be tailored to enhance communication skills in children with ASD. A comprehensive literature review forms the backdrop of the research, examining key themes such as the understanding of ASD through the DSM-5, navigating atypical social communication in ASD, the evolution of autism research and intervention, and the background of DMT. Preliminary findings suggest promising outcomes, with participants demonstrating improved communication abilities, including increased nonverbal expression, and engagement in social interactions. These findings underscore the potential of tailored DMT interventions, such as mirroring, in addressing communication challenges in nonverbal children with ASD.




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