Please Don’t Send Him To Music Class

Please Don't Send Him To Music Class

Stevie loves music.

He loves to watch music videos, and loves to listen to music in the car. He loves to sing. He loves to play instruments. He just loves music and music loves him.

They have a thing going on.  When Stevie is upset, music will calm him down. When Stevie is happy, music complements his joy. Wherever Stevie goes, the music within him makes it’s way out with his beautiful singing.  Robbie has incredible abilities to imitate sounds, including instruments.

To hear a clip of him singing a classical piece from Baby Einsteins, click here.  In the DVD, this song is played by violins, and that is exactly what Stevie has made his voice to sound like!

The music he listens to and enjoys is usually really good too.

But don’t you dare even think about singing near him, no matter how good you are. He hates it when other people sing.

And don’t pretend to play the drums, or cluck a beat in your mouth. Or snap your fingers, or "bee-bop" for that matter.

And you know what? Don’t even dance. Because maybe you might get carried away and accidentally sing.

And absolutely DO NOT make him go to music class. He hates it.

For some reason the teachers and therapists at school thought Stevie didn’t like music. But that is not the case at all. He LOVES it. He is gifted in music. He has perfect pitch and an amazing range, and if he could learn to play an instrument without first destroying it, he’d be an instant celebrity on YouTube.

But he hates going to music class.

Why?

Some of the kids sing off key. Some play instruments wrong or their off-beat.  The sounds they make are not only jarring, but also unpredictable.  Loud screeches, and unexpected banging on percussion instruments overtake his ability to enjoy learning about music.

But that is because his sensory processing disorder interferes with his natural love for music; not because he doesn’t like music.

In music class he has no control over the noises exploding discordantly in the air around him. He must breathe in and breathe out the offending sounds as they vibrate through his body uninvited. There is no escape and there is no control. Sounds that are soft may make his skin crawl and sounds are loud attack his ears and body. So many sounds and frequencies just plain hurt.

He doesn’t like the way noise canceling headphones feel so he doesn’t wear them. Instead, he prefers to plug his ears with his fingers and hum (or script) to himself to try to cover up the cacophonous sounds that attack from all sides.

I’m am sure it just. hurts. too. much.

Stevie tried all he could conjure up to avoid having to go to music class.

He would bolt away,  he would drop to the floor and flail about in the middle of the school hallway. He’d push and pull and yank and grab and scratch and well, you get the picture.

But unfortunately, the powers that be did not understand him.

They did not want him to think he would be rewarded for his challenging behaviors.  Instead of listening to his behavior as a cry for help, they chose to not let him control the situation and provided an “escort” into that aversive classroom.  When he became unsafe with his behavior in the class, they would perform a 2-person stability hold in his chair to keep him there until he was safe enough to go back to the classroom.

I bet you can guess how much he enjoys music class now.

They gave up and he won (not really) being able skip going to that class.

Nobody should be required to sit through something that is painful to them, no matter how little we understand about why it is uncomfortable.

So please, please do not ever make him go to music class.

(Disclaimer: What happened in music class is pieced together based on what we learned happened from IEP meetings. Since the school would not let us observe what was happening for ourselves (due to misinterpreted “privacy” laws), I can only use my imagination as to what music class was like for my son.)

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6 thoughts on “Please Don’t Send Him To Music Class”

  1. That’s one of the best descriptions I’ve ever read of what it can feel like in situations that feel normal to most but assaulting to me.

    I think this will really get through to people, tho it’s a bit too late, sadly, for some.

    Love,

  2. My son (who is almost 16 now) had a very similar reaction to music class, even though he has always been very rhythmic and musical. I think that you are really onto something, that your boy feels overwhelmed and stressed when music is not perfectly in sync, in tune, in rhythm. I have suspected this many times with my own kid. I’m sorry to hear that the school staff handled this issue so badly. I hope the experience does not dull his love of music and his innate abilities, and that the school learns how to better understand what he is trying to communicate and respect his sensory issues rather than ignore them.

  3. Wow. What an interesting piece! It must be hard for you and your son to be aware of this natural talent, but for his inability to express it with others. Good for you though for standing up for him. I’m a teacher, and I totally respect that, in most situations, the parent knows what’s best. Wishing both of you the best of luck! :)

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