Saturday, October 8, 2011

How Music has Helped Me: Part One

There was a time between the age of two and four when I was nonverbal.  When I say nonverbal, I mean that I did not have the necessary language skills to communicate.  The loss of the language skills I had developed prior to my time could be seen as the onset of my autistic characteristics.  When I say nonverbal, I do not mean silent.  I babbled on incoherently whenever I tried to say something.  My parents could follow what I was trying to say to an extent.

My parents enrolled me in an early educational program at age two.  This way, they could try to restructure my language skills.  What happened to me is common in some who have autism.  I am not going to place any blame.  It's not going to change the past.  I just know that there is probably someone out there who has a child who stopped speaking and doesn't know what to do.  Keep in mind that there is always hope.  Don't ever give up.  I don't know what works for everyone, but I do know what worked for me.

When I was nonverbal, my mom used to play music for me from Sesame Street and different tapes that gave the alphabet, and so on.  She used to play this music for me over and over again.  This repetition caused my autistic mind to memorize those songs, even though I did not have the language skills to speak the words myself.

As I mentioned already, I was nonverbal, but I was not silent.  My use of language directly resembled my thoughts, which existed through feelings rather than words.  By memorizing this music, over time, I was able to speak again.  In the summer of 1991, I started to say the word "mom."  My mom was so excited she grabbed the video camera.  Just out of high school, I remember watching that tape and understanding the true significance of what had taken place.

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