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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The Humdrum of the Once Fun

Sketch is in the basement (or "down-cellar" as they say in Maine), dressed in his favorite outfit of the one and only brand of underwear (put on backwards) that he will tolerate on his body.   He is listening to David Crowder's DVD which has a grand total of approximately  4 songs on it.  They are absolutely fantastic songs (and I highly recommend them), however Sketch will listen to those same 4 songs all day long, over and over again, repetitively... exclusively, while he plays in the dark with trains, all day long, over and over again. That is, if I let him.

Dash is dressed in a  dark green T-shirt that says, "I do my best work while playing VIDEO GAMES!". He is sitting at his Mac-Mini, playing his newly discovered computer game, Twizzle, over and over and over again, all day long, exclusively, repetitively, day after day...if I let him.

They both just love doing their "thing", whatever it may be for the day, week, month. But, a couple hours into this, they will become grumpy, and they don't realize the source of their dissatisfaction. Instead of moving on to a different activity, they will continue with the familiar.

The next day, they don't remember the grumpy part at all.  They just recall how much fun they had when they started to play that yesterday. And so, they continue in the same pattern, day after day, over and over and over again...if I let them.

The fun, entertaining pastime transforms into a lifeless, monotonous, and tiresome activity.  An activity that they insist on continuing because it has become a part of their beloved routine.

Sometimes I have to tear them apart from their routine. They don't realize they are grouchy because they are bored with the very thing that initially brought them so much joy. I remind them, "If it is no longer fun, then it is time to move on to something different!"

When a solution is offered, they balk at it, fighting tooth and nail while loudly wailing in defiance.  The thing they need...the cure, they refuse.

Sometimes, we behave the same way.  We find a groove, a routine we like. It works for us. Things go smoothly, for a while.  Then, over time we become unsatisfied, bored, or maybe even grumpy. Sometimes we don't even know we are in a rut and we continue while slowly digging ourselves deeper and deeper thinking eventually we will come out on the other side, but in reality it is a very deep pit, a cavity beginning to decay.

Then, when we hear God tell us it is time to do something different, we get upset with Him because we still think we are going somewhere in our current ways.  We fight him tooth and nail...not wanting the solution that will save us, because we think we are saving ourselves. But God does not give up. He never leaves us even if we leave him.

Psalm 30: 2-3

"Oh LORD my God,  I called to you for help and you healed me.

Oh LORD, you brought me up from the grave; you spared me from going down into the pit."

Deuteronomy 31:8

"The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged."

Are you in a rut?

Is God telling you it is time for a change?

Will you trust Him to guide you along His path?

Don't be afraid, do not be discouraged.  God is leading you out. His plans are to give you a hope and a future!  (Jeremiah 29:11)  Just as we would not let our children to repeat the same thing over and over to a destructive end, God will not leave us either.  We show them the way out, and He shows us the way out too.  He is the perfect parent.