Ethan and Henny, November 5, 2016
Words cannot describe how it feels to prep an autistic boy for his bar-mitzvah and then watch him journey into his own spiritual manhood with grace, dignity, and pure joy. This is a kid that everyone has given up on because he showed no academic potential until 18 months ago when I entered into his life.
Today, he is a transformed human being. With perfect pitch and ten years of piano lessons, memorizing his aliyah (torah portion chant) was ridiculously easy for him. The bar-mitzvah was not the culmination of our work together, but rather the unlocking of the first 1% of his potential for the rest of his life. My speech is in the last two minutes of the video below.
Autistic kids preparing for their Bar-Mitzvah are at a distinct advantage. Their musical ear will make memorizing their Torah portion a breeze. Their love for languages will guarantee that the drash
will be read with expression and drama. Lastly, their extensive support team from childhood will be rooting for them, making their big day a very important rite of passage and into adulthood.
When purchasing a tallit, it is important that the B’nei Mitzvah’s sensory preferences are a
lready known. Does he prefer soft velvety fabrics or is he aversive to them? Does he prefer woven linens to chenille and velvet? He should be given as much time as he needs to test by wearing the actual styles and make sure he can tolerat
e the textures on his neck. After all, he will be wearing it for two hours on the big day, as well as for the rest of his life during prayers. Perhaps he prefers that you wash and dry it many times so it isn’t very crispy on the big day. Ask, and discuss.
Donning the tallit independently and with dignity is very important. Nobody wants to stand up there looking like a confident young man with a beautiful suit and tie, dressed to the nines, and suddenly have mama adjust the tallit on for him. Imagine the public embarrassment anyone would feel—“Ma, stop!”
Other than the grueling and frustrating rote memorization of gross and fine motor skill tasks, motor planning disorders (such as dyspraxia) require a neurological alternate route for successful execution of the task at hand. The following is a strategy that worked for my student:
- Grandpa (or whoever) holds the tallit, with the words facing you, so you can read them.
- Begin reading the blessing. You’ve got this. You’ve been practicing for so long!
- Right Hand reaches for the word “Batzitzit”
- Left Hand reaches for the word “Baruch”
- With your “Batzitzit” hand (Right Hand), put “Batzitizit” over your head.
- Gloat as it falls into place.
- Wiggle the tallit to make sure it doesn’t hang like a toilet paper tail. Don’t look at it. Try to feel it.
IMPORTANT: Do not practice in front of a mirror. It confuses the motor system that tries to imitate a reversed image. Rather, practice by reading from this chart. If the tallit does not have words on it, imagine where the words would be and reach for it when grabbing the corners. If it is your family custom to kiss the tallit, ask your family where and when to do so and revise your chart accordingly.
I teach non-verbal and autistic students to develop their musical gift in a permanent and dignified way. Through evidence-based piano pedagogy for perfect pitch students, there is no fear of rejection because of “behavior problems”.
|Strength-based abilities system: What comes before “D”? If you answered “C”, then you are ready to learn sight-reading for piano. Beginners and all level of abilities and special needs are welcome. My specialized method is designed to empower all individuals through piano mastery. Non-verbal and autistic homeschooled students with special needs and/or perfect pitch thrive from piano lessons.
Scientific-based methodology – The neurobiology of auditory learning accessed during music instruction stimulates language-based skills necessary for educability. All humans are capable of benefiting from this specific methodology, especially non-verbal and autistic clients with enhanced musicality.
Why Piano? Teaching sight-reading for piano in the classical tradition empowers non-verbal autistic individuals to demonstrate intellect through music. Because most autistic people have perfect pitch, this process rapidly enriches their daily lives, and carries over to all areas of academia. The moment this can be observed by others, such individuals are recognized as worthy of regular education.
Can I get smarter by listening to Mozart music every day? “Nobody ever got fit watching spectator sports.” Making the music, rather than listening to recordings, “transforms your nervous system” and makes you a better learner” (DR. NINA KRAUS (2013) Neurobiologist , Northwestern University, California).
In my music sessions, I address the following goals:
Increase attention span.
Develop orientation to the environment.
- Executive Function Skills 1
Increase physical coordination.
Improve dexterity and flexibility.
Increase gross and fine motor skills.
Develop hand-eye coordination.
Develop motor-planning skills.
Increase auditory discrimination skills
Develop auditory concepts.
- Improve convergence insufficiency
Enriched communication skills.
Enriched group skills
Increase self-esteem and self-confidence.
- Bring about creative self-expression through music.
CLICK TO SEE MORE VIDEOS
Tobi (5), Non-Verbal Autistic, vocalizing for the first time with the help of the music
SEE VIDEO “There is so much to tell you, really. How I found this awesome, incredible teacher. How she recognizes his strengths and teaches to them. How she effortlessly assumes his competency even when I’m still not sure! How she totally gets how he processes information. How I always leave a lesson thinking: Well, this next step is going to be hard! And then how it totally isn’t even a fraction as hard as I imagined! Just thinking about it makes me want to explode with happiness. Happiness for Oliver in his achievement and happiness that I could finally help him do something he has wanted for so long.” ~ Oliver’s Mom, on All About the Music blog
“By the third week of her lessons, Molly was a changed person. Empowered by recognition of her creativity, she was able to deal with the bullying at school”.
One autistic boy’s progress: From screaming, to playing, to note-reading in 3 weeks
Click here to contact me for more information.