This is from a series of articles that is shared on the fxs listserv. It is written monthly by parents Mary Beth Langan & Ted Coutilish of Michigan. This is their most recent article.
All my kids respond real well with music. Though Matt doesn’t do headphones maybe music in the car can somehow motivate him to go into daycare….or get him out of it…hmmm
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COLUMN NAME: X-tra Special Advice
HEADLINE: Never underestimate the power of music
COPY: Maybe it’s not quite a miracle. But it’s close.
Taking Andrew, 6, to soccer at Barnes Early Childhood Center in Grosse Pointe Woods to play on the Grosse Pointe Soccer Association TOP Soccer team with other children with special needs last season and the first month of this season was like jumping into a WWF ring. We would wrestle him to the field only to have him wrestle us near the front fence gate as he repeatedly tried to leave. He grunted and snarled and screamed and cried the whole time. Even our best reinforcement – Twizzlers – wasn’t making a dent into getting him to participate with more than a few half-hearted kicks.
Veteran Dragonflies Coach Diane Karabetsos and her amazing team of volunteers took turns wrestling him. Nothing worked to get him engaged in the game. The coaches knew we were considering quitting since it was so exhausting for all of us and nothing positive seemed to be coming out of the experience.
After several exhausting rounds, our best and brightest solution was to demand he kick the ball 20 times in a row to be rewarding with leaving. He did and we left. Not once did he participate in stretching. Or the drills. Or the game. It was ugly. It was so ugly other parents of children with special needs felt bad for us. That’s saying a lot.
After a couple Saturdays this season, Assistant Coach Diana Karwowski – retired special education teacher – thought of a great idea. After receiving permission from us and Kim Graham – Andrew’s teacher, Karwowski and Karabetsos visited Andrew in his classroom at Mason Elementary. They saw him perform in an environment where he does well and got some very good ideas from Graham, including a social story about soccer and a visual storyboard about Andrew’s soccer tasks.
Not to mix metaphors, but out of left field came the best idea from
Andrew’s brilliant teacher. Graham suggested we play music to encourage Andrew to play soccer. She reasoned he really liked music and that may motivate him to participate.
Anything was worth a try.
We bought new batteries for the portable CD player and brought along the new CD of favorite tunes compliments of Graham and her brother.
Music worked. It was the required motivator. Andrew closely followed behind us carrying the CD player with his favorite songs around the field like we were the Pied Piper. The magic notes calmed him. Soothed, he kicked the ball all over the field. He kicked around cones. He kicked the ball into the net. He kicked the ball to coaches. And he kicked his anxiety of playing soccer on a large field with other children, parents and volunteers – including his wonderful one-on-one, ever-so-patient coach, Karen Ridgway.
He even smiled.
The miracle of music put a smile on our faces, too. OK, so what if we
looked like John Cusack as Lloyd Dobler trying to win back the love of Diane Court by playing Peter Gabriel’s In Your Eyes in Say Anything? It beats wrestling with our son in the midst of a monster meltdown any day of the week.
Next week, we’ll be back on the field at Barnes. And if you think we
look funny, read the last lines of Say Anything: Diane Court: “Nobody thinks it will work, do they?” Lloyd Dobler: “No. You just described every great success story.”
Grosse Pointe residents Theodore G. Coutilish and Mary Beth Langan created this column to share experiences from their journey as parents of a child with Fragile X Syndrome [fragilex.org]. Send your questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.