Autism Watch: 2007

Autism and Music

Posted on: July 21, 2010

My son likes music. His music, the style he likes at the pace he likes and at the volume he likes. He’ll beat the drums when he’s up for it, and he likes the guitar. But music class? Not so much.

He’s got a beautiful voice. I sing, my sister sings, and both my daughters sing; we aren’t athletes, but we can belt a song and stay perfectly on pitch, so it’s not a surprise that he’s got this gift. I want to encourage it, but without overwhelming. After all, he’s got music class at school to do that for him.

I’m big on music being offered to all children. Music and art help the brain process other information more properly, and it’s also a stress-reliever. I want BB to take music class and come away feeling he’s learned something, and to look forward to it next week. So far though? Not so much.

Apparently the music teacher is not aware of his IEP, or “his issues,” for lack of a better word. That’s a problem we’ve run into frequently at schools throughout the years — people not being kept in the loop. They treat him like anyone else because they don’t know, and if they aren’t a patient person, he tests what patience they do have and it’s even worse.

BB wasn’t happy with music last year. He’d tell me then that he didn’t think she liked him and she was meaner than anyone else, which puzzled him. She’s still there this year, and I haven’t met her, but I also haven’t met a mean soul at this school, so it surprises me. However, his story doesn’t change, week after week, so I don’t think he’s embellishing. The drums in the class hurt his ears, and in his words, she “snapped.” BB had a headache and an earache when he came home, said his “tubes popped out” (impossible since they fell out in ’04) and he went at his sister (though she may have deserved it) like I’ve not seen him swing at anyone in a few weeks, so I know he’s on edge, and it’s likely the music class that generated it. Sigh.

I’m not sure what all transpired, but the Dh called and spoke with administration. All is good, I’ve been told, but I am looking forward to hearing the whole story. I want BB to look forward to music, and not dread the one day a week where he has it — which will ruin the whole day and take away from anything he tries.

What’s your thoughts on autism and music? Any special accommodations you’ve found that work or don’t work? Tips?

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3 Responses to "Autism and Music"

Although my kids are very musical, m\they each have a certain type of music ONLY that they will tolerate. One cannot listen to slow music, it makes his emotions go all weird and he can’t express sadness. The other one needs slow songs to calm her when she is over stimulated. It takes time to learn what the preference is but if your son is in a place where he cannot control it, then perhaps that class is not for him.

My ds used to have sound issues. I always traveled with ear plugs. He didn’t like how tissues or napkins felt (in a pinch) so I never left home without them. In church during praise and worship: earplugs. At the movie theater AFTER I asked them to turn it down: earplugs. At home with his MP3 player? I have to tell him to turn it down!
Most of my sons sound issues have resolved just through time, patience, and prayers. When he’s had a class that “gives him a headache,” we normally chat about why, and what he feels WE should do. I have been rather fortunate that I haven’t had to intervene very much. Sometimes he’ll come up with a solution of asking to move his seat or telling the teacher how he feels. If the teacher isn’t understanding of his sensory needs, perhaps a note or a face-to-face is called for. School is too important for their to be a class that ruins his day. I would find some way to convey his needs to his teacher.

it could make a sense to them

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