Many piano students who are nonspeaking autistic (or for other neurological reasons), also have dyspraxia. I have dyspraxia (and I’m autistic). Dyspraxia is a neurological motor movement disorder. It is difficult to sustain the arm in playing position, and it is very difficult to play the notes as you want them. Just because you know the note, does not mean you can ‘prove’ that you are note-reading, due to the brain/body disconnect.
Thank you Vikram K. Jaswal, Allison Wayne, and Hudson Golino, for this landmark Eye Tracking study. “Users not only looked at and pointed to letters quickly and accurately even in lengthy responses, but patterns in their response times and visual fixations revealed planning and production processes suggesting that they were conveying their own thoughts.”
How much more research do we need to make communication accessible to all people? The continued bashing of facilitated communicated (FC) and Rapid Prompting Method (RPM) is ableist, classist, and absolute discrimination. It is a gross misjustice of power from the Ivory tower, heralded by the white men promoting #abatherapy. If we allow autistics to communicate their own thoughts, we will not be able to force them to comply with #aba (this is their panic).
If there is any single researcher who challenges the purposeful authorship of nonspeaking autistics who utilize AACs, please contact me. We will SILENCE those who have silenced us for so many years. Down with the patriarchy.
As educators, we must know that motor movement differences are at the core of productivity. Does your student’s joints collapse, do they have trouble with fingers twitching, arms being hyperextended, posture issues….and on and on? As pedagogues, it is incumbent upon us to find the most appropriate teaching modalities that supports the student in gaining confidence in their productivity.
Imagine being nonspeaking, autistic, unable to toilet independently because your hands can’t grip your pants. Imagine sitting in a piano lesson where the teacher puts stickers everywhere, thinking that the student is simply not able to ‘cognitively’ process the lesson, because heck, they’re not showing you the ‘proof’. With this population, the proof is not in the pudding. The proof is in your pedagogy. I have been asked many times, “but why does perfect pitch matter?”. It matters because if you are familiar with my research, you will know that 97% of autistic people have perfect pitch (82% other disabilities, 52% of neurotypicals). With that said, having perfect pitch (you’re born with it) means that we MUST target what *is* intact, in order to activate purposeful motor movements.
If you have questions about this technique, please ask! I have somehow become a leading expert in the science of neuroplasticity, motor movement disorder, hand eye coordination, visual tracking anomalies, and resuntently, a pedagogy scientist. Let’s talk about why nonspeaking people should be considered for piano lessons just like everyone else.