A-Z List

Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

Previously termed Mental Retardation (The designation Cognitive Disability is used in the state of Wisconsin in public school settings. Within the literature, the designation Cognitive Disability actually references any type of cognitive problem, regardless of age of onset, and is not necessarily developmental in nature.)


Journal Articles

Compiled by various students
May 9, 2000

"Mental retardation refers to substantial limitations in present functioning. It is characterized by significantly subaverage intellectual functioning, existing concurrently with related limitations in two or more of the following applicable adaptive skill areas: communication, self-care, home living, social skills, community use, self-direction, health and safety, functional academics, leisure, and work. Mental retardation manifests itself before age 18." (p.1)

Source: Definition, Classification, and Systems of Supports: by Luckason, R., Schalock, R. L., Snell, M. E., Spitalnik, D. M., and Stark, J. A., Washington, DC: American Association on Metal Retardation.

by Ilsa Hillert - Decemeber 1999



C child; A adult; G geriatric; K knowledge; E eye contact; O motor skills; B social behavior; I social interaction; V vocalization; Z music terminology; N testing with music R music as a reinforcer; M music to communicate; U music and creative arts; P music and performing arts; L music implications; Y moderately mentally retarded; T trainable mentally retarded; S severely and profoundly mentally retarded.

Walker, J. B. (1972). The use of music as an aid in developing functional speech in the institutionalized mentally retarded. Journal of Music Therapy. 9, 1. 1-12.
Call #: (?).

This study focused on the development of speech in severely retarded males using music and other audio-visual stimuli. The control group of 3 severely retarded males was given speech exercises only through oral instruction. The experimental group of 3 was given speech exercises incorporating music, body movement, and visual aids, plus extra rewards of music for improvement of intelligible conversation. The study found that music therapy increases the rate of acquiring correct functional speech in people who are institutionalized severely retarded. Using music as a reward increased positive verbal performance.

Wingert, M. L. (1972). Effects of a music enrichment program in the education of the mentally retarded. Journal of Music Therapy. 9, 1. 13-22.
Call #: (?).

This study explored the impact of a music enrichment program on evaluative test scores in mentally retarded children. Twenty mentally retarded children were given the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test and evaluated for the Trainable Mentally Retarded (TMR) Performance Profile, both pretest and posttest. Between the two tests, 10 of the children were assigned to attend 36 forty-minute music sessions, 2 each week for 18 weeks. The other 10 children had little music involvement in the classroom, if any. The study revealed a significant increase in test scores for basic knowledge, communication, and social behavior in both groups. Therefore, no strong proof was found to exemplify increase in knowledge due to music.

Wasserman, N., Plutchik, R., Deutsch, R., & Taketomo, Y. (1973). The music background of a group of mentally retarded psychotic patients: Implications for music therapy. Journal of Music Therapy. 10, 2. 78-92.
Call #: (?).

This article suggests having the client or client's family fill out a questionnaire regarding the client's interests in music before the music therapy sessions begin. This tool gives the therapist an idea of what type of music and music activities to use to structure the sessions. Questions pertain to the client's musical preferences, musical aptitude, previous exposure to music, and family use of music in the home. The music therapist must take into consideration that the family member is working from his or her own perspective, not the client's. The client may be or become interested in activities the family member may have disregarded for the client. The questionnaire serves as an aid for planning, implementing, and evaluating a music therapy program.

Jorgenson, H., & Parnell, M. K. (1979). Modifying social behaviors of mentally retarded children in music activities. Journal of Music Therapy. 7, 3. 83-87.
Call #: (?).

This article describes the study of socialization in four moderately retarded children. The initial goals were to increase participation, initiate interaction from child to child, and improve appropriate responses. The music therapist found that behaviors of hitting, yelling, pushing and nonparticipation needed modification. An observer recorded the occurrences of these behaviors during the sessions by watching through a one-way mirror. The music therapist devised a point system for positive behavior and explained it to the children. The observer noted a dramatic decrease in the unwanted behaviors with this system. In order to double-check the effectiveness of the point system, the music therapist told the children there would be no points issued. There was an automatic increase in unwanted behaviors. Points were reinstated, and rewards ranged from a piece of candy to being allowed to choose records to play. This initial study indicated that a physical incentive may increase the effectiveness of therapy.

Underhill, K. K., & Harris, L. M. (174). The effect of contingent music on establishing imitation in behaviorally disturbed retarded children. Journal of Music Therapy. 11, 3. 156-166.
Call #: (?).

This study explored the effects of music on retarded children and their imitation skills. Four children were asked to imitate the actions of the therapist by playing rhythms on various instruments. The study consisted of five stages: 1.Baseline: no praise or scorn was given for correct or incorrect answers. 2.Noncontingent music: music was played in the background independently of the child's behavior. 3.Contingent music: music was played as a reward for correct imitation. 4.Baseline. 5.Contingent music. Baseline and contingent music were repeated to verify the results. The results of this study indicated that noncontingent music had little to no effect on behavior, while contingent music dramatically increased the amount of correct imitations. Reverting to the baseline caused a decline in correct imitations but was easily reversed by reinstalling contingent music. Therefore, music may be considered a primary reinforcer.

Wolpow, R. I. (1976). The independent effects of contingent social and academic approval apon musical on-task and performance behaviors of profoundly retarded adults. Journal of Music Therapy. 13, 1. 29-38.
Call #: (?).

This research evaluated the effects of praise in music therapy sessions. Seven profoundly mentally retarded men who were members of a rhythm band served as the subjects. They were observed on attentiveness and performance. The therapist gave social and academic approval based on good behavior and performance, respectively. The therapist used four phases: low overall approval, low social/high academic approval, high social/low academic approval, and high overall approval. The results illustrated an overall increase in both attentiveness and performance. No indication was found to show any advantage between social or academic approval. However, attentiveness rose to over 80% by the final session as opposed to 53% initially. Performance increased overall by 22%.

Leinhard, M. E. (1974). Factors relevant to the rhythmic perception of a group of mentally retarded children. Journal of Music Therapy. 13, 2. 58-65.
Call #: (?).

This study was performed to identify human traits that may affect rhythmic perception in the mentally retarded. Both male and female subjects were tested, varying in chronological and social ages, IQ's, and social quotient. The experimenter created a rhythm test in which the subject had to distinguish whether two rhythm patterns were the same or different. There were 20 items in 3 different orders (to avoid serial position effect.) Only correct answers were tallied in calculating results; incorrect answers and failures to answer were discarded. This study displayed IQ, chronological age, and sex as important factors in determining rhythmic perception scores in mentally retarded children. The findings in this study are in conflict with those found in previous studies.

Greenwald, M. A. (1978). The effectiveness of distorted music versus interrupted music to decrease self-stimulatory behaviors in profoundly retarded adolescents. Journal of Music Therapy. 15, 2. 58-66.
Call #: (?).

This study experimented with the effectiveness of aversive music stimuli in modifying inappropriate behaviors. Four profoundly retarded adolescents with IQ's less that 20 were evaluated to target inappropriate behaviors such as putting their hands in their mouths. The sessions lasted 11 minutes each. When the subjects exhibited one or more of the targeted behaviors, an aversive stimulus (distorted music or silence) would be used. Once the subject refrained from the inappropriate behavior for three seconds, the aversive stimulus would be taken away. This study did not yield the desired effects. The aversive music did not decrease the inappropriate behaviors, and the subjects displayed no apparent awareness of their external surroundings or the changing stimuli.

Bokor, C. R. (1976). A comparison of musical and verbal responses of mentally retarded children. Journal of Music Therapy. 13, 2. 101-107.
Call #: (?).

This study compared echoic responses in mentally retarded children based on music sequences versus alphabetical series. The subjects were 24 children with brain damage and 20 children with Down's Syndrome. Each child was given tests in which they were to imitate the proctor, repeating the letters of the alphabet or singing the notes. Both forms began with 2 parts, and based on correctness would increase the number of letters or notes until the child couldn't perform the sequence. No difference was found in amount of echoic responses based on verbal versus musical sequences. The children with brain damage tested better overall. However, neither group showed skill in one aspect over the other.

Saperston, B. (1973). The use of music in establishing communication with an autistic mentally retarded child. Journal of Music Therapy. 10, 4. 184-188.
Call #: (?).

This article describes the progress of the communication of an autistic mentally retarded child over an 18-month period. The patient, an 8-year-old microcephalic, profoundly retarded boy, began the music therapy sessions seemingly unaware of his surroundings. The music therapist created a system based on the extremity of the patient's movements to control dynamics and varying movements to change keys and/or note patterns. After 20 sessions the patient showed signs of awareness. The music therapist was able to increase communication through the music and eventually accomplished the beginnings of eye contact through holding the patient's head and singing the patient's name as a reward for making eye contact. The music therapist enabled the boy to become aware of his surroundings and other people, increasing his vocalization and eye contact.

UWEC owned titles - May 9, 2000


Hairston, M. P. (1990). Analysis of responses of mentally retarded autistic and mentally retarded non-autistic children to art therapy and music therapy. Journal of Music Therapy. 27, 3. 137-150.
Call #: UWEC McIntyre Library (Journals Bound and Microfilm).

This article examined how art and music therapy can be used therapeutically and the responses it generates with both children who were autistic and children who weren’t autistic. It also included descriptions of children who were severely and profoundly mentally retarded but were not autistic and how they responded to art and music therapy.

The study found an increase in developmental milestones (behavior, communication, socialization, and pre-academics) in both groups of children during the experimental period. It also reported a significant increase in acceptance of physical contact, time spent observing the teacher, and time spent in appropriate play behavior for the non-autistic participants.

Coats, P. (1987). Is it functional? A question for music therapists who work with the institutionalized mentally retartded. Journal of Music Therapy. 24, 3. 170-175.
Call #: UWEC McIntyre Library (Journals Bound and Microfilm).

This article described the changing role of the music therapist who works with clients who are severely and profoundly mentally retarded. It also looked at how music can be used to develop leisure time skills in adults who are severely and profoundly mentally retarded adults who live independently. Treatment centered around the two concepts of independence and generalization. The client works on a skill with the music therapist in various settings to be sure that the skill is generalized. The article also stated that data should be monitored closely by the music therapist to see how effective the method is.

Pujol, K. K. (1994). The vibrotactile stimulation, instrumentation and precomposed melodies on psysiological and behavioral responses of profoundly mentally retarded children and adult. Journal of Music Therapy. 31, 3. 186-205.
Call #: UWEC McIntyre Library (Journals Bound and Microfilm).

This study focused on fifteen people who are profoundly mentally handicapped, ages six to forty six years old, and the effect of vibrotactile stimulation, instrumentation, and precomposed melodies on the physiological and behavioral responses they gave. It found that the major flute melody, as opposed to the major bells melody, that was used elicited the most vocalization from the participants. The major flute melody also elicited more vocalizations when it was not accompanied by the vibrotactile stimulation. The music produced an initial stimulatory effect but this decreased over time.

Hunter, L. L. (1989), Computer-assisted assessment of melodic and rhythmic discrimination skills. Journal of Music Therapy. 26, 2. 79-87.
Call #: UWEC McIntyre Library (Journals Bound and Microfilm).

This study examined uses of special computer software, "Toney Listens to Music," with handicapped children to assess the musical discrimination skills they had. The study included forty-five mentally retarded children between the ages of nine to twenty-one years old who all had IQ’s less than 60. The study used Easy Melody and Difficult Melody and Easy Rhythm and Difficult Rhythm. The study found a significant difference between the Easy Melody and the Difficult Melody. The study also found that clients scored higher on the Difficult Rhythm than the Easy Rhythm. The study found that the computer software may be a potential tool for testing musical discrimination skills in clients who are severely and profoundly mentally retarded clients.

Hoskins, C. (1988). Use of music to increase verbal response and improve expression language abilities of preschool language delayed children. Journal of Music Therapy. 25, 2. 73-84.
Call #: UWEC McIntyre Library (Journals Bound and Microfilm).

This study examined the effect of using music activities that emphasized expressive language skills to improve the scores of developmentally delayed and mentally retarded children. These children took the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test before and after they participated in group music activities that emphasized expressive language skills. The study found that test scores may increase after using antiphonal singing with picture cards.

Holloway, M. S. (1980). A comparison of passive and active music reinforcement to increase preacademic and motor skills in severely mentally retarded children and adolescents. Journal of Music Therapy. 17, 2. 58-69.
Call #: UWEC McIntyre Library (Journals Bound and Microfilm).

This study explored a comparison of passive music reinforcement versus active music reinforcement to see which would increase the motor and academic skills of eight children classified as severely mentally retarded. The passive reinforcement consisted of a ten second song with piano accompaniment that praised the subject for completing the task. The active reinforcement consisted of the individual receiving his or her choice of playing a rhythm instrument for ten seconds. It found that both approaches led to an increase in motor and academic skills. There wasn’t a significant difference in effects between the passive or active reinforcement on the clients.

Hair, H. I., & Graham, R. M. (1983). A comparison of verbal descriptors used by TMR students and music therapists. Journal of Music Therapy. 20, 2. 59-68.
Call #: UWEC McIntyre Library (Journals Bound and Microfilm).

This study looked at the differences in words that music therapists and people who are classified as trainable mentally retarded (TMR) used to describe the same musical concepts. It also examined whether the words the participants used were different than the musical terms that are currently used in music textbooks. The subjects of the study were music therapy graduate students or students in their senior year of college as well as people classified as TMR with mental ages ranging from four through nine. It found that people classified as TMR generally used the correct terminology when they were sure of the concept they were describing. This terminology was also consistent with current textbook terminology. There was not a consistent set of words used by both the music therapist and people classified as TMR for words that were missed. With a better understanding of the concepts behind the terms, they would be able to communicate better with the music therapists.

Bornell, D. G. (?). Movement is individuality: An interabilities approach using dance taps. Journal of Music Therapy. 4, 1. 98-105.
Call #: UWEC McIntyre Library (Journals Bound and Microfilm).

This study explored the effect of using dance taps to improve motor abilities in physically and mentally handicapped children and adolescents. It also found that taps can be used to increase cooperation in group work and self confidence.

Becker, I. L. (1983). Control of acquisition of eye contact by distorted and undistorted music stimuli. Journal of Music Therapy. 20, 3. 132-142.
Call #: UWEC McIntyre Library (Journals Bound and Microfilm).

This study described how music was used to help a person with mental retardation establish eye contact. In the study both regular and distorted music were paired with eye contact with the therapist. The study found that music can serve as a positive reinforcer for making eye contact, but that using distorted music when a client failed to make eye contact didn’t have much of an effect.

Eagle, C. T. (?). Music therapy for handicapped indiveiduals: Annotated and indexed bibliography. Washington, D.C.: National Association for Music Therapy.
Call #: ML3920.E2 - UWEC McIntyre Library (Main Stacks).

This reference provides a bibliography of references for using music therapy techniques with handicapped children and included many citations about using music therapeutically with people who have mental handicaps.

Non-UWEC owned titles - May 9, 2000


Silliman, L. M., French, R., & Tynan, D. (1992). Use of sensory reinforcement to increase compliant behavior of a child who is blind and profoundly mentally retarded. Clinical Kinesiology. 46, 3. 3-9.
Call #: Inter-Library Loan at UWEC.

This article described how music was used to reinforce gross motor performance of a ten- year-old child who is profoundly mentally retarded and blind. Gross motor performance included walking, stair climbing, standing and sitting. Music therapy did prove to be an effective reinforcer for the gross motor areas.

Wigram, A. L. (1988). Music therapy: developments in mental handicap. Psychology of Music. 16, 1. 42-51.
Call #: Inter-Library Loan at UWEC.

This article described the different client groups who may be seen in music therapy including people who are profoundly physically and mentally retarded and behaviorally disturbed. It also includes information on the role of the music therapist in working with young children who need special services. Examples of music therapy programming are included for each population.

Roy E. Grant, R. E. (1989). Music therapy guidelines for developmentally disabled children. Music Therapy Perspectives. 6. 18-22.
Call #: Inter-Library Loan at UWEC.

This study provided a description of music therapy in the development of perceptual, sensorimotor, social, and communication skills in children who are moderately to severely mentally retarded.

Zagelbaum, V. N., & Rubino, M. A. (1991). Combined dance/movement art. and music therapies with a developmentally delayed, psychiatric client in a day treatment setting. Arts in Psychotherapy. 18, 2. 139-148.
Call #: Inter-Library Loan at UWEC.

This article describes a case study of a fifty-one year old woman who is both profoundly mentally retarded and schizophrenic who is involved in a day treatment program that includes the creative arts therapies. It found that dance, art and music are effective treatments.

Anthi, A. (1994). Isolation and the multi-handicapped patient: An analysis of the music therapist-patient affects and processes. Arts in Psychotherapy. 21, 5. 359-365.
Call #: Inter-Library Loan at UWEC.

This article describes a case study on the effect of music therapy and profiles the work of a seventeen year old male who is severely mentally handicapped, blind, deaf, and partially paralyzed. The therapist used music and percussion to match his breathing.

The study found the client could develop body language in response to music and also he that made vocalizations in response to the music.

Oldfield, A., & Adams, M. (1990). An investigation of the effects of music therapy on a group of profoundly mentally handicapped adults. Journal of Mental Deficiency Research. 34, 2. 107-125.
Call #: Inter-Library Loan at UWEC.

This study examined twelve profoundly mentally retarded adults who received music therapy. It found increased eye contact, vocalization, and participation in activities resulted from participation in music therapy.