As with so many things, Jack tends to get stuck on one particular thing. Since he started preschool, the highlight of his school week has always been music therapy. He gets weekly music therapy through school and really seems to thrive from it.
It's interesting how autism works. Jack can only say 1-2 word phrases spontaneously - things like "Up" or "More glug-glug (milk)" - but he can remember all of the words to a TV show or a song he hears and recite it with astonishing accuracy. Now, most people can't understand what he's saying when he scripts - his articulation really seems to be much poorer when he's scripting - but as his mother I can hear the tell-tale words that indicate it is one particular show, or vocal prompting from his iPad games or a toy, or that it's a particular song.
Hence where the music therapy seems to sink in. Despite appearances to the contrary, it is clear to me that Jack is listening all the time, even when he doesn't appear to be doing so. He can give the impression that he's not paying attention through his lack of eye regard or stimming, but in reality he's taking it all in. So at school when he's acting disengaged during music therapy, he's still listening. In fact, he will recite the songs over and over again after hearing them once, so he's obviously listening. That and he obviously has an absolutely ridiculous memory; he's like a computer that just stores all of this information in his memory after it gets inputted only once.
Plus, even though it's very echolalic and tends to become perseverative, I get to hear adorable things such as this:
"I shot uh shawiff, buh I did-m shoo uh W-T..." (Translation: "I shot the sheriff, but I didn't shoot the deputy...")
But back to the music...
|Thank God we don't have to go there.|
So, we listen to significant amounts of Bob Marley in our house. Why? Because, Jack likes it and there is something about the music that calms him down. Perhaps it's the predictability. After all, no matter how many times I play Legend, it always sounds the same. I know that Jack thrives on predictability. After all, he now refuses to watch Super Why! and shows incredible anxiety when it's on because one of the last times he watched it an Emergency Broadcast alert came on - high-pitched screaming alarm and all. Now, he screams and shakes if he sees Super Why!.
Songs are predictable. Many other things aren't. Music, especially certain genres like reggae, jazz, or blues, tend to be very soothing. Jack likes reggae, but he also seems to enjoy classical music, too. The calming rhythms just seem to speak to him in a way that words can't.
Music has been a part of Jack's therapeutic program in various ways over time. Only through school has Jack done music therapy, but he has done a therapeutic listening program through his occupational therapist. Many of his therapists sing to help him through transitions (it seems to reduce his anxiety during times of change) or to help keep him calm during stressful times (like feeding sessions).
It's always wonderful to see something, like music, give my boy a bit of joy and help relieve his anxiety.
I've heard that many special needs children seem to respond well to music. If you have a special needs child, does your child like music? How do you incorporate music into your child's life?