One of the classes I attended at MTNA conference is a subject that is close to my heart. The topic was “The Inclusion of Students with Disabilities in the Music Studio” Natalie Wickham at Music Matters Blog attended this class as well, so I will just refer you to her notes when you get a chance.
My son Skyler, now 17 years old was diagnosed with autism when he was younger. When he was a young child, I would have never imagined all that he would be able to accomplish over the years. My husband and I made sure that we were always encouraging. We didn’t allow his diagnoses to be an “excuse”. Matter of fact, it wasn’t until he was 12 years old that he even knew he had autism. It was around that age that he started to notice on his own that he was “different” from the other kids at school. That was the appropriate time to explain what autism was and what he was going through. But we always made sure he knew that just because he had a diagnosis known as autism, it did not define who HE was. When he was in 7th and 8th grade he was really struggling, probably more than ever socially. He went through constant teasing, bullying, etc… He had many meltdowns. It was when he was in 8th grade that I felt we needed to educate his peers. So Skyler and I went to each of his classes and did a presentation on autism. Skyler talked about things that he goes through. How the noise in the classroom, the fluorescent lighting, changes, simple things that the average student wouldn’t even be aware of affected him. He talked about his social struggles and took questions at the end. I wish I would have thought of it sooner, because after his presentation things improved. Matter of fact, at the end of the day one of the girls that teased him came up and apologized. That alone made it all worth doing. I’m happy to say that his High School years have been much better than his Jr. High years. He is a Senior this year! He has a talent for computer animation and broadcast. He has been doing computer animation since he was 5 years old.
Skyler has participated in Boy Scouts since he was 8 years old. The highest achievement in the Boy Scout program is to earn an Eagle award. To earn an Eagle, the scout is to pick a project that will demonstrate leadership ability and will benefit the community. Many hours are put into this project. When we were talking about project possibilities, Skyler decided that he wanted to do something that was close to his heart, something that could benefit not only the community in which we live, but communities all around us. He decided to do his project making a video on how students with a disability can accomplish great things. That even though they have a disability, it does not define them.
I wanted to share this video with you. In this video one of the students is a HS student who is talented at the piano and uses music as a way to uplift. Please share it with your friends, your family, your students, your piano families. It is a great message and something that can benefit everyone who watches it. Skyler gives permission at the end of the video for schools, churches and other institutions to freely distribute for the purposes of disability awareness programs. The more people that view and use it, the better!