It has been a very eventful school year so far. Nothing was so interesting to our WordPress community than hearing about Students A and B (Part 1 & Part 2). Students A & B are Autistic. I was unsure how as an educator I could help them find instruments, keep pace with the class and my inexperience with teaching special needs students. Yes, I did take a class that included how to teach students with autism, but it was geared towards general education teachers. No one was able to give me band examples in the class.
While I am and will always more than willing to work with any student there were some things I had to consider.
- Student A was frightened of loud noises. Student A was gentle and quiet. Student A will not tell me if he or she understands the concepts learned, even if I ask. He or She is afraid to give the “wrong” answer.
- Student B is violent, destructive, easily distracted and offended. While very knowledgable in science, music isn’t just facts and definitions.
It has been a month and a week and there have been triumphs and set backs.
Student B has had a violent outburst followed by grabbing me by my wrists and not letting go. I had to get some help. It’s been 3 weeks and he or she has been very careful since the incident.
Student B also broke his or her instrument, unfortunately as I feared (but not how, it was an accident) , however, parents purchased accident insurance! We are awaiting a replacement.
Student A has had great difficulty forming his or her embouchure correctly. He or She was only making progress putting together the instrument and taking it apart. No real sounds were being made.
Student A stayed after last week and after some help with a make up mirror (so he or she could see his or her lips) we made sounds and played a recognizable Mary Had a Little Lamb!
We are still working on many other things, reading music, controlling tempers, figuring out the best way to test (there are written tests, playing tests, auditions for parts…), keeping playing position and posture consistent …
We have a way to go. Progress is being made however!