Special Saturday: Music in Our World

Music is language: relating to our special needs kids

Long before Bobby knew words, he had a language all his own. Oh, he had the facial expressions that other kids develop, even kids like him–kids that had challenges. But he had a language aside from that. It was revealed in the way his whole face would light up, his body–the same one he had a hard time directing–would sway and bounce, his eyes–the same eyes that saw little of the world around him–would sparkle in merriment.

Our boy had music. He delighted to the soft melodies of classic rock-and-roll and adored nursery rhymes, he loved it all. It was a language all its own for him. We could creep into his world and be a part of this special language with him, just by dancing with him, singing the song to him, cuddling with him while swaying to the music.

Bobby still loves music.

His brothers do as well.

My awesome guys come alive to the sound of music

Andy playing piano (special needs? What special needs?)

Andy always loved playing piano. Here, he was about a year and a half, if that old.

Andy likes to create his own songs. In the same way he’s turned artist and writer (and reader!), Andy has become a song critic of estimable opinions such as “that’s kinda annoying” or even, “now that’s a song I can dance to.”

Logan? He brings us to giggles when he careens into the living room as a new show starts on the television. He doesn’t come in to watch the show. Who cares about such things? No, he stops, eye riveted to the screen, body still in devoted worship to whatever song happens to be the opening song. His favorites: the Andy Griffith (he seems to really like the whistling), M.A.S.H. (long a favorite!), and of course Spongebob and all his Nickelodeon friends.

Of course they all love family music time. This spontaneous fun-time activity came about by accident. Many years ago they started gathering around the computer or radio or wherever we might have been listening to a song. They are all drawn to music like moths to a flame. They all even have their own way of dancing to their own beat. 

Bobby acts as though he’s studying the music in the air. With short, precise little rocks–back and forth–he slowly builds up to a fever pitch until he just can’t stand it anymore and either spins away, says something very silly, or puts a little more bounce into his rocking. He loves to look at the computer screen if that is where the music is coming from – something else to study!

Andy’s like a spinning top – he’s all over the room and making crazy dance moves, grinning the entire time as he hams it up for whoever turns to watch him. He’s enthusiastic and loves to memorize the lyrics, the pitch, the everything. He is the one who starts us all singing at the oddest of time with his zany need to break the ice, and silence.

And Logan. For all his intensity over music itself he’s very particular in his dancing, has to be coaxed into making the movements often. His brothers are great instigators of this, with all of us bouncing up and down trying, and failing, to imitate his jack-in-the-box type of dance movements. Really, perhaps he’s more like Tigger, with his intensity and focus and enthusiasm for all things. As he gets some momentum going, he just bends his knees into a deeper bend a little at a time, until he’s going at it so hard he looks like he’s ready to pop across the room.

Kids with special needs have many ways to unlock bits of themselves

Music is most assuredly a key–one of many–to understanding and delighting in our children. In much the same way they meet dancing as a challenge to be be dealt with, they meet life with a veracity of spirit that continually amaze and sometimes exasperates me. They are my guys–Bobby with his intense but joyful enthusiasm, Andy with his creative and exuberant showmanship, and Logan with his excitability and ferocious determination.

Music is but one of their languages, you see. One of the many ways into their souls.

What connects you with your children? What ‘languages’ do you speak in your family that others sometimes have a hard time understanding, or even seeing?

Katrina Moody

Katrina Moody

Graphic Designer, Wordpress Addict, Blogger at Kat's Media & More
I'm a special needs parent before just about everything else in life, but also a passionate advocate for my three boys and husband, who all have a bit of awesomeness about them. Awesomeness = Axenfeld-Rieger Syndrome, Autism, Epilepsy, Dyslexia, Cerebral Palsy, and more. It all adds up to some awesome kids and an amazing family.
Katrina Moody
Katrina Moody
Katrina Moody

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  • http://www.therextras.com Barbara

    Well, I think the answer to your question is this – we 'speak' in movie lines around here. teehee. My Hubby has a penchant for making-up words.

    You might want to check-out this music therapist on twitter: @KimberlySMoore

    • Katrina

      Barbara – with all the different therapists we have tried over the years, would you believe that we have never considered a music therapist? I'll have to look up your suggestion to follow (you know I love my Twitter!) and look into it further. The boys adore their music and if there is a better way to leverage that for therapeutic purposes, I might just have to do more research!

      As always, Barbara – you are a great source of information. We also 'speak' in movie lines around here. I'm the word creator of the bunch, though the kids have been known to jump right in as well. That's funny how many ways we 'speak' to one another, isn't it?

  • http://musicsparks.wordpress.com JoAnn Jordan

    Thank you for sharing your families use of music with us. The variety of songs is great! I would recommend you follow Barbara's advice and seek out a music therapist in your area who specializes in working with children. In addition to contact Kimberly though Twitter you can go to the Certification Board for Music Therapy (http://www.cbmt.org/).

    Please feel free to follow me on Twitter, too. I am @JordanEM.

    • Katrina

      JoAnn – thanks so much for stopping by! As you guys have pointed out the idea of a music therapist to me – I am a little embarrassed to again say that in the whole scheme of therapists we have tried, we have never actually tried to work with a music therapist before. Which is a little nuts, considering how much they all adore their music! I appreciate the link you shared and will add it to my list of things to check out for the guys.

      I'll also look you up on Twitter! Thanks again for stopping by and hope to see you again soon!

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  • http://yorkvilledentistry.ca/ aayna

    Such a lovely article. Had a gala time reading it. Thanks.