DR Grace Thompson

DR Grace Thompson


  • Autism Spectrum Disorder (Social communication)
  • Families and Children (Parent-child relationship)
  • Music Therapy (Children with developmental disabilities)



  • Dr Grace Thompson is a registered music therapist, lecturer and researcher who specialises in supporting children with special needs to engage with their families and communities through music making. From 2000 - 2010, Dr Thompson worked exclusively in Early Childhood Intervention in a family centred model with pre-school aged children with disabilities and their families. As music therapist and team leader, Dr Thompson developed a collaborative approach to music therapy practice which aimed to support families guided by ecological theories. Her music therapy practice is therefore underpinned by a desire to support parent-child relationships through participating in engaging and mutually enjoyable music making activities. Dr Thompson’s research interests include mixed methods studies that are applicable to real-world clinical practice. From 2012-2016, she was the Australian Site Manger contributing to an international, large scale, multi-site RCT aiming to recruit 300 children in total from 8 different countries. Dr Thompson completed her PhD in October 2012. Her doctoral research investigated whether music therapy improves social communication skills and family relationships for young children with severe autism. The study showed significant improvements in the quality of the children’s social interactions using a strict randomised controlled design (RCT), and parents described closer relationships with, and understandings of, their children in interviews. Current research projects: • Musical-play: Optimising social engagement in young children with special needs. (ECR Grant - $22,390.62). 2016 – ongoing. • Optimising visual attention in children with autism spectrum disorder: a comparison of singing and speech. (MNI Interdisciplinary Seed Funding - $10,000). 2016 – ongoing. • Case study: Exploring the creative interactions of children with autism spectrum disorder in music therapy. Thompson. 2014-ongoing • Parent perception of the benefits of music the   


Member of

  • ASfAR - Autism Research Community. PhD student member 2010 -
  • Australian Music Therapy Association. Chair of Ethics 2010 -
  • Early Childhood Intervention Association. General Member 2000 -
  • Australian Music Therapy Association. Registered Music Therapist 1994 -


Selected publications


Investigator on


Education and training

  • GCUT, University of Melbourne 2016
  • PHD, University of Melbourne 2012
  • BMUS(THRP), University of Melbourne 1993

Awards and honors

  • Faculty Teaching Award, 2015
  • Ruth Bright award for excellence in conference presentations, Australian Music Therapy Association, 2011



Available for supervision

  • Y

Supervision Statement

  • Dr Thompson's research expertise is in mixed method designs that are applicable to real world clinical contexts. Dr Thompson's clinical and research expertise includes work with: children on the autism spectrum; children with intellectual disabilities; children with multiple disabilities; family centred practice; and disadvantaged families. Current supervision research projects - Shifts in parental self-efficacy and responsiveness of vulnerable families following Sing&Grow participation. Teggelove, Thompson, McFerran. 2014-ongoing - Exploring parents experiences and perceptions of singing and using their voice with their baby in a neonatal unit: An interpretative phenomenological analysis. McLean, Thompson, McFerran. 2014-ongoing - How do pre-adolescent children use music as a health resource throughout their experience of living in crisis? Fairchild, McFerran, Thompson. 2015-ongoing Completed: Music therapy performances with pre-adolescent children and families living in crisis: an interpretative phenomenological analysis. Fairchild, Thompson, McFerran. 2013-2014