Music.... Music was the controlling factor in my life for many, many years. I loved rock and roll when I was younger but I did not like the rigors of playing classical violin. When I finished college with a degree in music education I laid it aside to pursue another path. When I married and had kids it stayed on the shelf for the most part aside from singing in church and playing and singing with the kids; "guitar sing" is what we called it. I would pick up the violin once in a while just to see if I had lost my touch. When the kids hit their teens, I became even more distant from it.
.....About 2 & 1/2 years ago, I met a group of ladies in Finchville, KY. I had set up a booth and they had come to the fall festival to play their instruments. Most of them played the Appalachian mountain dulcimer. We have a dulcimer that Larry made when he was in college and I had strummed around on it a little, even wrote a song with it when we were first married. But for the previous 20 years, it had hung on our living room wall. When they learned this, I was encouraged to take it down off the wall and play. By this time, our youngest and oldest had moved out on their own and I was open to trying something new. I joined the dulcimer society and began a new musical journey. This was something that I launched out on by myself. I wanted it to be "my" thing to do for me. That lasted a few months. Hubby started going when he wasn’t working out of town.
.....In the fall of the following year, my AS son became interested and offered to go and take photos. I took him with me because Larry was working at night and I figured I was safer with a 7’ tall man and it couldn't hurt. He attended several jams and took photos. Those shots are in the "Music" folder in my Facebook pages. About 4 weeks later, at a potluck dinner, he overreacted to something that someone said to him and became very upset. Larry ignored him and I encouraged him to go outside and calm down. The following week, I was asked not to bring him back. He stayed away for over a year, but attended other music events with us. Now before you ask yourself, “What kind of folks would do such a thing?” please understand that Aspies can become very upset by things that would not bother neurotypical people and many of the members are older, fragile ladies. I could have walked away from the group, but I had been through the same situation so many times, it wasn’t that hurtful; that, and I really love what I do. Plus, the person who told me was very understanding and not judgmental.
.....Last year, Larry was working out of town and I began to take him with me on occasion and now he is going every week. He began to play the washboard and is trying valiantly to learn to play guitar. He played with us on his first gig at the YMCA adult day center in March. The group seems to have accepted him and it has gone well to this point. He loves being a part and he works really hard at behaving well. He does get tired and sometimes waits out the last half hour in the car.
.....If music therapy had been a program at my college, I probably would have gone that direction. My mother used to say that music soothes the savage soul and I think that is true. I also believe that angry music stirs up angry feelings and religious music enhances worship by stirring the spirit. It is a powerful force. I have no desire to pursue music therapy right now. I am working hard at becoming an instructor but I have a long way to go in proficiency.
Our musical journey started out rocky but it seems to be working out. I hope that someday the public will be educated about dealing with neuro-atypical people. We carry autism cards to hand out to folks to help them understand what is going on but I don’t know if they really take it seriously. Some do not want to believe the information. They just think the person is crazy, rude, lazy, or whatever. I hear stories on the news every day about people who probably have some kind of disability. It is scary when they fall into the hands of the police. Even with education programs in the police department, it has changed very little.