Monday, October 19, 2009

To EEEE or not to EEEE

"The littlest birds sing the prettiest songs"
The be good Tanya's

Two of my herd came downstairs today wearing shorts and tank tops. It is thirty degrees outside. We have already had our first freeze...sigh...I am still waiting for summer. It seems like we have had mostly rain and chilly weather since the middle of June. I was hoping for a warm fall. Needless to say, we have been mostly stuck inside the house. It isn't that bad..if you like hearing the theme song to "My little Pony" played over and over again on the computer..and the not so dulcimer tones of the trombone being practiced. Yes, this year instead of singing in the concert choir, Sammy has elected to play the trombone.

You very well may wonder as I do, what possessed my boy to choose the trombone. We listen to all kinds of music in our home. I try to expose them to all kinds of sounds and styles..from Rock to Jazz and classical..swing and Ska. There is nothing though that features the trombone. No "Greatest Trombone melodies" or "Romance of the trombone". It is just one of those instruments that you know is there, but you don't really pay attention to. I asked Sammy, "Why the trombone buddy?" he responded.."Because the tuba would look weird." O.K... What else could I do but support him.

The music teacher was not so encouraging. I received a call from her, where she expressed her concerns about Sammy learning an instrument. She didn't feel that he had the patience or the inclination for formal music lessons. Sigh...I had this same discussion with her last year when he wanted to sing in the concert choir. He auditioned and got in-but the music teacher felt he might not be able to handle group singing. Not only did he handle it-he excelled. I reminded her of this. She brought up his trouble with playing the recorder. I said that Sammy, because of his fine motor difficulties, had trouble with the fingering required..that he really had no interest in the recorder and that he only played it because it was required for the class. That furthermore, other children were being rewarded with " colored strings" for their mastery of the recorder, and this made Sam incredibly anxious..She countered with.."Playing an instrument is a commitment-he didn't stick with concert choir"..In which I replied " He didn't like the music you chose for them to perform...that songs like "Farmer Jon's nappy knickers" just didn't inspire Sammy (or anyone else) to sing. That he was more interested in working in contemporary (meaning from at least the last 50 years) music. I was met with silence..Ha HA! I won! My prize? A free loaner trombone that the school had.

We picked up his trombone last Tuesday. I drove over to the school with both of my boys. Oscar came along for the ride, because he loves school-and has expressed his desire to live there. I happened to glance over at Oscar as I was standing in line to buy the various trumpet accessories(book, music stand, cleaner, sedatives for me...) He was sitting off by himself just stimming away. Very tight arm movements and grimacing. I called over to him"Hey Bud, you o.k.?" He stims sometimes when he is overwhelmed. "I'm o.k. mama." "Your shaking a whole lot, I'm just checking" "I'm o.k. mama." This time, I noticed other people staring at him..I thought about what they were seeing. I'm sure that to them, Oscar looked really odd. I had never looked at him with an outsiders eyes before. We have always felt that his flapping and eeeing were something that he needed to do. We have talked to him about controlling it when he was in the classroom, we have explained that it could be very distracting to other people and that he had to respect that. At home however, his flapping and eeeeing are just part of the background noise. It is home. The place where he should feel safe, secure and confident. We are very open about stimming with Oscar. We have told him that people may or may not understand it, that they might think that he was somehow less because of it. But he is eight years old. How much of that is really relevant to him now? Yes, I want to change how the world perceives people like my kids. But I don't want to use my kids as props to do that. They are just kids-it is not their responsibility. It is giving me a lot to think about lately. I don't have any answers. I think we'll just take it one day at a time. Like the trumpet, or Zoe's obsession with online poker.

Although Sammy hasn't yet had a trombone lesson, he has already figured out how to put it together and how to blow into it. So far, it sounds like our dog Charlie does after he has eaten Italian food. Only the odor is missing. So our home has added one more noise to the already cacophonous symphony that is my family. At least for the most part they are happy noises..I can handle that....sigh... Only 150 days till spring.


Clay said...

I'm confused, did he get a trumpet, or a trombone? In fifth grade, the school wanted some of us to take up instruments, and I allowed as how I might like a trumpet, but somehow got a big ol' trombone instead. Had to lug it back and forth, it was too big for me to reach the furthest notes, and - it wasn't what I wanted! A bugle, a coronet, was more what I wanted.

Kim Wombles said...



To EEEEE, absolutely.

Although I'm with you on your concerns that your children not be the guinea pigs that changing society rests on. So, I think we ought to have a national stim day and we'll all go out in public and put on our own stims in full display. Sort of like the red hat ladies wearing purple dresses. We'll take the heat and change the world. :-)

kathleen said...

oops thanks for the catch Clay! It is the trombone-and he is in fifth grade-just like you were..sigh..he really loves this instrument. But like he said-the tuba would just be weird..:)
Kim-I love the idea..perhaps we ought to promote it? It would be like woodstock sans the music:)

Casdok said...

We eeee a lot here to = a National stim day - great idea!
Sorry the music teacher was less than encouraging. Hope the lessons goes well amd more importantly that he enjoys them.

Kim Wombles said...

Posted on facebook and linked back to here:

An idea is born: National Stim Day. So many autistic individuals have stims that cause them to be stared at or mistreated by strangers and non-strangers. Truth be told, we all have stims, odd little self-comforting gestures or behaviors to soothe our...selves. Let's make the world an easier place for everyone. Wear your stim with pride. Ooooh, buttons! To stim or not to stim!Read More

denise said...

Farmer jon's nappy knickers?

Could this be the inspiration for farmers nipples!

Oooh, I'm so excited to have figured this one out :)

kathleen said...

@Casdok-national stim day-in the works!
Hi Denise..I made up the song title :) It just seems that this particular music teacher picks the most obscure music-that no one has ever bothered to do anything with-and for good reason! Farmers nipples is all Oscar..his newest is now "Lets go to hairy world!!" sigh...

Elaine Caul said...

Wishing Sammy the best of luck playing the trombone. National Stim day sounds like a brilliant idea! :-D EEEEEEEEE

kathleen said...

Hi 3laine! Yes, I wish him the best of luck...and me the best of luck in listening to it!! :) National stim day would certainly get peoples attention.

jazzygal said...

Go mama Kathleen! Well done, standing up to the music teacher....and how can you fault Sammy's logic re: the Tuba??! :))

I do notice when WiiBoy acts a little odd (he doesn't do stimming per se) in public. Like at the football match last week...he joined in with the easy chants then kept on with them when everyone else had finished. in a silly voice too. we did get a few strange looks and I felt it but ultimately decided "sod them"!!

Great post! xx Jazzy

kathleen said...

Hi Jazzy-yeah, I find myself thinking the same thing..and yes, the tuba logic-it does make sense in a Sammy fashion :)

Floortime Lite Mama said...

absolutely to Eeeeee

This topic made me smile for that is EXACTLY R's stim as well

And I have exactly the same attitude as you do

I wrote a long post about it here

It was an ordinary post then - but it has become a guiding principle of sorts and a very good one