Our journey through autism

Posts tagged ‘music’

Piano Recital

Last weekend was Bilal’s first piano recital. He did amazing and he looked really handsome and grown up in his shirt and slacks. He’s been playing piano since July of last year with Ms. Megan of MTSofGA and he’s picking it up really well. They’ve been practicing and working on his songs for a month and he played 2 songs with finger together placement. His playing brought tears to our eyes, we couldn’t be prouder.

I’ve said this before and its also been said by the mother of the autistic teenager that may receive a noble prize for his work in astro-physics. That you have to find the child’s “spark” find what he’s good at, something he has a passion for and concentrate on that along of course with all the other therapy. Try to turn his passion into therapy that will help the child in his other areas of weakness. As the child gets older therapy becomes work and boring its no longer a play date with an adult so doing something fun is important. Bilal has a musical ear and can carry a tune on key and all that so we looked for music therapy, he does tend to get silly and off track a lot but his teacher has been amazing and great with him. Playing the piano has been good fine motor practice with moving his fingers along the keys his sessions at OT improved as well. So my two cents of advice is to find that passion or spark and work on it, be it music, art, math, design, science, computers… etc. It may turn into the child’s career path or just something that gives him a confidence boost and helps along with life.

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Bilal was the first one playing. Also his trophy.

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Adapted Piano Lessons

I’ve mentioned before that Bilal had an ear for music, he’s always singing or humming something from school, TV the radio, he gets the tune right but the lyrics are a mess but because I’m able to recognize the song right away I help him out with the words. We tried music therapy but his class mates were way lower functioning than him and holding him back and it was more play with music than actual music, they barely got to play with the instruments just a quick couple bangs and it is put away because they’re acting up, so we only did 1 semester of that and moved on to swimming.

One day out of the blue I heard him bang the “where is Thumper?” or “Are you sleeping?”  song on his xylophone and later in the day he played it on a small toy piano that came with a Happy Meal, where he learnt it or was it just musical intuition we dont know, but his dad rushed out that day and bought a keyboard. Hubby has played with it more than Bilal has but its around the house where he can try out different things and maybe learn more. When I went to the Special Needs Summer Camps expo earlier in the year I met with another center that offered Music Therapy, called Music Therapy Services of Greater Atlanta in  Downtown Roswell  and I spoke with the representative telling her we were interested in music but worry about class mate developmental levels and the like and she said they offer several classes and options trying to find the best fit for the child, I thanked her took her brochures and left, we also met the center that offered the adapted swimming lessons that day and went with that soon after. So with the keyboard at home and summer camp over we decided to check out music therapy I gave them a call and they said they offered adapted piano lessons and they offered a free 30 minute consultation lesson first to meet the therapist she meets the child and we discuss options. Bilal loved it and we quickly decided to do an hour lesson a week. She is impressed with his musical ear saying she has tune, melody and pace. They mainly play the piano and learn the black key patterns, high and low notes, and he started learning musical notes, because he loses focus quickly and starts acting silly they play other musical games like dancing or drums or guitar, so he learns to appreciate other instruments and enjoy music in general. He’s a quick learner and she said he’ll move from Book A to Book B quickly. Ms. Megan is great she has a beautiful voice and is really good at her job dealing with Bilal’s silliness and keeping him focused.

Music Therapy

Along the lines of something fun after 4 months of one on one therapy we decided to have Bilal do music therapy. He loves singing and humming and takes after his father with his musical ear and right tone. He sings a lot of children’s songs pretty well, just off on lyrics either mispronouncing them, or just humming instead of saying the words. Recently he’s started signing along to the radio with me during our drives to and from therapy a mix of songs from the 80s, 90s and today. This music center had free introductory classes at the public library and I went and met with them. They offer music classes to babies 3 months – 10 years. Two weeks before classes were to begin I went and met with the music therapist, we discussed Bilal’s strengths and weaknesses, what we’d like to achieve and had a short mini-lesson as example to what we’ll cover once we begin. Bilal enjoyed the class and was looking forward to start. She will write out a goal sheet similar to an IEP to cover in the next 8 weeks as a winter session with an option for another 8 week session as spring term. This class is different as it is a class with other special needs children (social skills) and also their mothers, something we could do together that’s fun and educational.

As with all of Bilal’s classes or therapies they have a chart of activities to be covered. They start out with a Hello song, the therapist asks the child how they’d like to say hello, would they like to wave, or clap or stump their feet? this encourages speech, communication and decision making. There is a story to act out (imagination, movement), instruments to play, listening to different animal sounds from tape, moving to the speed of the music, following instructions, taking turns, etc… Bilal had a lot of fun, and with 2 other little hyper boys he had a blast being silly with them.

The only draw back to this is that it is a bit far, off in Cobb county and also Bilal is higher functioning than the other two boys so not much challenge in that with the same environment in school I’m not sure what to do, he needs a class with typically developing children, which at school might not be possible till kindergarten as he’s doing pre-k again next year due to a late September birthday. We’ll see how it goes and whether we’ll do the spring session as well or not.

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