IS THERE A MUSIC TEACHER WILLING TO TEACH MY AUTISTIC CHILD?
Simple answer: Yes. There are teachers willing to teach your autistic child.
However, finding a patient and understanding music teacher willing to teach those 'on the spectrum' might be a bit challenging. The unfortunate reality is many music instructors won't take the emotional energy to find the patience necessary to work with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) students.
Here is my short story:
Since 1997, I have been offering music instruction for private and group music lessons. I am a music teacher.
I am not a behavior specialist. Yet, a few of my students over the years have showed clear (and not so clear) signs of ASD.
In my experience, teaching music lessons to children with autism is a highly emotional experience. Many of my students parents show much concern, as well as willingness and eagerness to help out during the lesson. Most of my experience with kids on the spectrum include the involvement of the parent during the lesson time.
Some parents seem to show embarrassment. Other parents can to show small signs of uncertainty and mistrust. Explanations and excuses are normal.
Before scheduling the first lesson, some parents have given me a 'heads up' during the intake and interview process. This is helpful and always appreciated.
After scheduling the first lesson, I have had more than one parent show up for the first lesson with an autistic 'surprise'. In my experience, these 'surprise' autistic music students are usually temporary. They don't last long in my studio. Their music educational journey with me is short lived. I would imagine it has a lot to do with the parenting. It would make most sense to me that a loving and caring parent would give a potential educator a 'heads up' before showing up. But as I have discovered, music lessons with autistic students can be a highly emotional event.
Autistic relationships seem to be a very personal, yet slightly unstable. Parents may know their child well, but may not know how their child relates to others.
ASD student need room to explore. Highly autistic children show me they want to be in control. Many parents accommodate this. Loving and caring parents often show they are looking for guidance, help and leadership in working with their child.
Autistic piano, drums, and guitar students like to be shown what to do without you showing them. IT has been my experience that too much attention can be 'too much attention'. They don't like to be *told* to do something. But think about it, do you?
They learn by absorption and listening, they learn from tactile and creative methods which are tailored for each specific situation. There are no 'cookie cutter' ways or systems to teach children who are 'on the spectrum'. This is okay because no two students are alike anyway. Whether autistic or not, each students requires special graces and attention. Honestly, I believe we are all 'somewhere on the spectrum'.
ASD music students need space to explore the studio and test the theory and concepts you desire to show them. Many are extremely talented and simply need an outlet to express their feelings and instincts. They need guidance and opportunities.
Giving autism music students can be quite the challenge for the instructor and teacher who like to have everything in order and in control. This could explain why it might be challenging for parents to find a compatible music teacher for their autistic child and student.
Parents and Teacher need to join forces in love to win the battle against the often unbridled and seemingly reckless will of autism.
It is my experience in discovering creativity, mixed with a huge dose of patience, is essential for the correct and appropriate redirecting of the autistic student.
Your child IS special. Your child IS talented. Your child IS gifted in music.
It is worth the effort to find a music teacher who will work with your child.
I trust this article has provided some insight for you.
I would love hearing from you. Please share in the comments below.
Music and Art Instructor
Jay Sandifer. Music. Art. Writing.
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