Autistic Individuals and community

    Imagine a group of individuals coming together, some flapping their arms, others chaotically running back and forth, and yet others screaming. All of them together in one room. No-one  in the group acknowledging that any other individual exists besides themselves.

     Suddenly,  someone who appears to look like a telephone operator  walks into the room.  She eyes each individual  and takes notice of what each and every person is doing. The telephone operator does her job.  She knows what connections to put into which sockets.  Only, she doesn’t use a switchboard, she uses a piano.  her fingers begin to dance at the piano as she sings to each individual and sings about their “original” versions of “dance”, her hands do their tricks.  her left hand plays in time to the hand flappers, her right hand, matching pitch with the screamers  plays simultaneously  the to the footsteps of the runners.   All individuals are playing, flapping, dancing, signing to the same tune.  As the music stops, so does all it’ s participants.  As the music begins, they all begin again in unison.

     Maybe they have not looked at one another this time yet, but they all stayed and participated willingly together.  This is the start, the start of community.  A start at a relationship, a start at attentiveness to something outside themselves.  A beginning to communication.

     This is the place where all these unique individuals bring their greatest strengths which happen to also display their greatest needs . Everyone has a job that they enjoy, that they are good at.  A job that includes them , a job unique to each individual yet includes them in a community function.  Where is this place?  It is the Music Therapy room.

     What happens when they leave this room?  They leave with new strengths that help them to function in jobs outside that room.  Jobs where the other workers the work with all talk alike, walk alike and all speak the same language.  Now these unique individuals can have new jobs that probably will not include music.  In these new jobs they may or may not talk and walk like all the other workers, but they can still function with them, in this new group of like minded individuals.

     Now the little boy who came in screaming leaves the Music room instead ,saying ” I am very disappointed.”  The little boy flapping all by himself now leaves the room saying “bye ,bye” to all his new friends.  The boy who ran back and forth, walks out of the room, stops, turns back and looks at the telephone operator (Music Therapist) and smiles and waves “Goodbye.”

                                                                            Kids Dancing Silhouettes

 

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  1. helen April 25, 2012 at 4:33 am

    I am loving your vignettes, Antoinette. I work very similarly to you with the same p[opulation and enjoy the validation that reading your stories gives me! Thank you!

    • Antoinette April 26, 2012 at 5:40 pm

      Helen,
      Thank you so much for the kind words! Getting comments like these also gives me validation! Thank you!

  2. XzUGCi3XE August 22, 2013 at 2:52 am

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