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Creating Happier, Healthier Kids: Autism Movement Therapy for Young Populations

MacKenzie Boyles
MacKenzie Boyles
Faculty Advisor(s)

It’s especially important for young children with autism to feel understood and more comfortable in moving their bodies to allow them to live lives that are fulfilling and safe in the physical, mental, and emotional domains of well-being. Helping a young child to communicate more effectively increases their happiness in social situations which can lead to less frustration and anger for them and those around them. Though many occupational and physical therapies have been and are being used to alleviate symptoms of autism in children, Dance/Movement Therapy is one that may be used but may not be cultivated to its full extent in practice. Purposeful Dance/Movement therapy, also known in this situation as Autism Movement Therapy, can offer benefits when implemented with or in place of standard therapies used in inclusive environments for children between the ages of ages 5 and 10 with mild to moderate symptoms of autism. These benefits include improving social skills in communication and emotional expression while also potentially improving gross and fine motor skills to create better cognitive awareness in the domains of mental, emotional, and physical wellbeing.

Project Media

MacKenzie Boyles is a senior majoring in Dance/Movement Science and English. During her tenure at Salem, she has been a member of the Salem College Dance Company and the Pierrettes Players Drama Club. She enjoys bringing the arts and sciences together to create more compassion in the scientific world and give authority to the arts. 


Your compassion shines just in the description and the first frame that I can see right now. I look forward to seeing/hearing your presentation.

Submitted by Paula_Young on Tue, 04/13/2021 - 20:27 Permalink

You are a natural teacher--you say right and move left. I can't give directions to someone without facing them because I say "go left" and point with my right arm. :-)

Submitted by Paula_Young on Wed, 04/14/2021 - 19:36 Permalink

I appreciated the imagery you used especially in your sample AMT movement sequence. I was curious if there are any AMT sessions in the Triad area?

Submitted by shawnbowman-hicks on Wed, 04/14/2021 - 21:25 Permalink

I really enjoyed learning about AMT. I hope to be an OT and this could be really helpful. As well as my nephew was diagnosed with autism at the age of 2 and loves music. I am going to try to do some dance therapy the next time I see him! I could also see you teaching AMT sessions!! Great Job!!

Submitted by sarah.benson on Thu, 04/15/2021 - 13:28 Permalink

You did a great job with both the project and the presentation. Your enthusiasm is contagious - realized I was smiling watching the presentation. I can see how this is an effective treatment. 

Submitted by erikabonadio on Thu, 04/15/2021 - 14:53 Permalink