Dance and Movement Therapy for Autism

Information Provided by Preethi Rajagopalan, Dance and Movement Therapy Practitioner from Bengaluru.

“Dance/Creative movement can foster creative self-expression, and provides safe and effective options for relating to others and coping with the environment.”

Dance Movement Therapy is the use of natural movement to tap into the emotional, psychological, mental and physical states leading to self-discovery and freedom of expression. A facilitator facilitates activities that strengthen the connection between the mind and the body and provide increased awareness of one’s limitations and potential. Participants expand their personal body language to achieve objectives such as personal development, stress prevention, mind/body self-awareness, increased creativity, enhanced self-confidence, improved cognition, increased agility, team building and many more.

Dance Movement therapy uses movement and dance as the primary means of communication. This works on the premise that movements and emotions are directly related to each other and by affecting the former, we can have a positive effect on the latter as well.

Dance Movement therapy sessions are provided in group and in individual sessions, both of which support the development of the child, including the acquisition and transfer of skills in many areas. Movement interventions may set limits within which children can learn to control impulsive behavior, and to increase their ability to focus and sustain attention, which are essential in developing cognitive potential.

Benefits of Dance Movement Therapy in People with Autism

Dance Movement therapy can help people with autism in varied ways and in all the areas of impairment the person suffers from in autism. The benefits experienced are as follows:

  • It helps in improving attention and concentration and thus helps in furthering education
  • Dance as a way of expression of emotion enables autistic people to express through movements
  • It helps autistic people in forming better relation
  • Due to liking towards repetitive movements, a therapist can repeat a movement pattern which the patient needs to learn and when they start imitating the movement vocabulary develops.
  • This helps them in learning different patterns of movements required for daily life activities
  • Group sessions in dance movement therapy enables in developing social skills and communications of autistic person
  • Doing a choreographed dance movement sequence in a series of sessions in a row helps in improving memory and recapitulation skills.
  • Touch therapy helps in developing trust on others as well as helps in reducing sensitivity to physical contact and touch.
  • Dance movement therapy helps in improving body image of an autistic person.
  • It helps in developing body awareness and improves general well-being
  • Many a times usage of proper movements on the different planes of motion can stimulate verbal communication skills
  • It helps in stopping the repetitive movements as they learn varied movements in the session
  •  Since it’s a movement therapy, the motor skills develop including the gross and fine motor skills
  •  As the social skills develop, it promotes understanding the feeling and emotions of others and thus develop empathy
  • Dance movement therapy helps an autistic person in better adaption to different situations.The main focus of a dance movement therapy session with autistic people is to promote expression of emotion, breaking the withdrawal symptoms and engaging with others, increasing interpersonal bonding and communication, recognising, associating and responding to others, increasing eye contact, participate in group activities and promote socialization and increasing shared focus, learning through mirroring, and developing trust.(Source:

    Please see below a leaflet from the   Creative Movement Therapy Association (Please double click on to view it)

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More information on creative movement therapy; please see the youtube videos (Videos from the Creative Movement Therapy Association of India CMTAI)