Study detail featured image

Development of Rhythm Skills in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Published in "Global Pediatric Health"


Pediatric, Academic Performance, Language & Literacy Skills, Speech

Understanding the Development of Rhythmic Skills in Children: A Focus on Interactive Metronome

The study “How Rhythmic Skills Relate and Develop in School-Age Children” suggests that the Interactive Metronome (IM) tool helps children develop crucial rhythmic skills which, in turn, contribute to the development of language and literacy. It’s the first study to offer evidence of interconnections among rhythmic skills in school-age children.

Key findings include that while merely drumming to an isochronous beat had no impact on recalling rhythmic patterns, children who could clap in time with a steady beat (with minimal variability due to real-time millisecond feedback from IM) showed superior ability to drum to a beat, recall rhythmic patterns, and drum to the beat of music.

Dr. Nina Kraus emphasized that rhythm is complex and consists of several rhythm intelligences. The Interactive Metronome influences all of these vital rhythms independently. Notably, individuals with reading impairment and other language deficits often struggle to keep in time with an isochronous beat. This suggests that Interactive Metronome could be a useful intervention for those with specific rhythmic deficits.

The study involved 68 children, ages 5-8, with 46 re-assessed a year later to observe the development of their rhythmic skills. The assessment involved 4 rhythmic tasks, including drumming to an isochronous beat, remembering and repeating rhythmic patterns, drumming to the beat of music, and clapping in time using IM.

In another study, presented at the American Occupational Therapy Association Conference in 2018, children who completed IM training showed statistically significant improvements in fine motor and bilateral coordination. Parents also noticed improved performance in multi-step task completion, time management, and organizational skills, suggesting an enhancement in executive functioning. This study involved 30 children from an outpatient pediatric therapy clinic who underwent 18 sessions of IM training.

In summary, these studies suggest that the Interactive Metronome can enhance rhythmic skills and coordination, leading to improvements in language, literacy, and executive function.

Abridged Summary & Results of Study

How Rhythmic Skills Relate and Develop in School-Age Children


AUTHORS: Silvia Bonacina, Jennifer Krizman, Travis White- Schwoch, Trent Nicol, and Nina Kraus

YEAR: 2019

Simply drumming to a isochronous beat had no impact on recall of rhythmic patterns. Children who performed better at drumming to the beat of music were better at both drumming to a beat and remembering rhythmic patterns. However, children who were able to clap in time with a steady beat with the least amount of variability in their synchronization (due to real time millisecond feedback from Interactive Metronome) demonstrated better ability to drum to a beat, recall rhythmic patterns & drum to the beat of music. According to Dr Nina Kraus, rhythm is complicated, there are several rhythm intelligences, & Interactive Metronome, by itself, impacts all of these vital rhythms that are so important to the development of language and literacy. Several clinical populations exhibit timing deficits that co-occur with to language deficits; for example, individuals with reading impairment often struggle to tap along to an isochronous beat. It is conceivable that clapping in time to feedback could be a viable intervention for populations with distinct rhythmic deficits (such as one group who struggles to synchronize to a beat and another who struggles to remember rhythmic patterns). The authors hypothesize that the perception & production of rhythm begins as a global skill early and becomes more specialized later in life. This is in line with previous IM research and the IM Indicator Table data.


  • n=68 typically developing children between 5 – 8 years of age
  • n=46 children were re-assessed 1 year after conclusion of the study to monitor development of rhythmic skills
  • first study of its kind to provide evidence of the interconnections among rhythmic skills in school-age children

Assessed via 4 Different Rhythmic Tasks:

  • 3 tasks used a conga drum, with a trigger to register drum hits:
    1.  Drumming to an Isochronous Beat: listen and drum to an isochronous pacing beat presented through in-ear headphones
    2. Remembering and Repeating Rhythmic Patterns: listen to 3 repetitions of a rhythmic sequence without drumming and then drum out the sequence during a pause, producing the sequence exactly when it would have occurred had it repeated a fourth time
    3. Drumming to the Beat of Music: listen to a musical excerpt through speakers and tap to the perceived beat
  •  1 task involved clapping in time and was completed using Interactive Metronome (IM)

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