Case Study of the Little Caterpillars Development Center

SoYun Park, Georgia College & State University


Music therapy is a clinical and evidence-based field in which a certified music therapist manipulates music in a therapeutic relationship to help a client reach healthcare or educational goals. In this case study of the Little Caterpillars Development Center, a student music therapist (SMT) performed music therapy on infants and emerging toddlers, while being supervised by a music therapy professor at GCSU. The CDC Developmental Milestones Checklist was used to assess the highest need of each population. For infants, the music therapy goal was to promote language development, measured by sticking out tongue, blowing raspberries, and saying “mama” or “dada.” For emerging toddlers, the music therapy goal was to promote functional communication, as defined by moving hands and waving hello or goodbye. In both classes, a multiple baseline design was used to collect and measure target behavior. Frequency recording was used to measure the percentage of children who demonstrated the target behavior. Play song-style of nursery rhymes were sung acapella or on the ukulele for interventions. Lyrics, tempo, and structure were the musical elements manipulated in the songs. The non-musical techniques used were modeling, repetition, and positive social reinforcement. The infant class exceeded the objectives and over 15% of the class said “mama” or “dada.” The emerging toddler class did not meet their objectives, as 30% of the class waved hello or goodbye, but not for two consecutive sessions. Progress towards music therapy goals was hindered by inconsistent attendance of the children as well as the change in classroom makeup that occurred when children graduated to the next class. These adjustments impacted the group dynamic and the progress made towards the music therapy goals would reset. Because of these factors, the data collected may not accurately assess the success of the clients and of the treatment plan.