Last week I met my first adult Autistic person
She was lovely . In her late 50's or 60's. Very warm and very sweet. She has a son ( who has Autism also ) and a grandson who also has Autism( through her daughter who does not have ASD) .
She is very very talented and can clearly play music by the ear. She had great ideas of how to teach music. Her apartment (very close to my office )was neat and homey too . Clearly she is hig functioning. There are a couple of oddities like she kept referring to me by my last name and got my phone numbers jumbled . Bue I really really liked her
She was almost Painfully honest. She charges $ 8 for a session ( if you are mommy of a special needs kiddo you know that is just peanuts )
And her first lesson was free ( she wants to make sure that she she does not overcharge "because the first lesson she cannot really teach anything… its just to get to know the child ")
It just broke my heart
She thought if she did not teach a tune the first day then we were not getting our money's worth !!!!
Her eagerness to please and her innocence were just too much for me that day .
I have such a tenderness for Autistic people. I love them really.
She mentioned that life had been very hard as she just could not do Maths and History and people were very mean.
R did not do too well in the lesson though as she was very in-his –face. I could see just the kind of vicious cycle that may have played over and over again in many a spectrum Person's life
Trying to woo someone without knowing how to , being rejected , feel hurt , recover , try again and so on
I am determined to break the cycle in this one relationship with my son though. I am determined that we will set this one up for success
So I wrote to her this email ( I thinking emails are better than phone calls as they are less stressful )
It was great meeting you last week . We are so glad we found you .You are clearly very talented and we look forward to a long term relationship with you!
Our goal is to develop a long lasting love for music in R. Its important he enjoy it
Here are a few suggestions we had based on our son's sensory profile .
I hope you dont mind us making them. But this is what we would do if we were in your place
In this Monday's session I would suggest .you simply play some tunes on the piano yourself and just chat with A( Dad ) without really interacting much with R ( your student )
Here are some tunes he loves
- Twinkle Twinkle
- The Wheel on the Bus
- Row Row Row your boat
- The Blue Danube
- Vivaldi's Spring
- Pretty much anything Mozart
- The Nutcracker Ballet
- Veggie Tale theme song
He gets overwhelmed in new situations and needs some time ( maybe even2-3 sessions) when he simply adjusts to the room and gets comfortable with it. While this may seem a waste -its a very good investment for us.
I would talk very less to him . I would let him approach you and I would be responsive in a gentle way - to any approach from him I would speak very softly and slowly and use few words - like instead of saying " R you want to play the piano" I would say "Play Piano? "
See you tomorrow ( I - Kajoli ( mom ) wont be there, A ( Dad ) will bring him )
Anyway here is the moral of the story – Our job as parents is not just to focus on speech and academics but also on life skills and most important a sense of self and self worth