Monday, April 18, 2005

And sometimes he communicates just fine

Yesterday we were riding in the car listening to one of Bud's Hap Palmer CD's when he exclaimed excitedly, "Mama! I have a great idea!"

"What's your idea, Bud?" I asked.

He replied in a chipper little voice, "You just drive, and you don't sing!"

Everyone's a critic.


lydia said...

Hi there, I stumbled across your blog because i have a friend who has a son with a mild asperger's diagnosis. Your stories of Bud are delightful, and heart-wrenching. Good luck.

Gwuinifer said...
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Gwuinifer said...

There's a story like this in Thomas Sowell's book, "Late Talking Children" that mentions how a little boy who always loved to sing on his own slowly began retreating about it until he wouldn't even sing if begged or even to join in with a raucous group. It started in the car, too- his mommy would catch him singing, and join in enthusiastically (of course, to encourage the behaviour), and he would get quieter and quieter and then stop and wouldn't start again. They finally got him to tell her (after much grief) that he was mad and thought Mommy didn't like his singing, since she always tried to cover up his voice with hers... *smile* More of that good old fashioned NOS perfectionism for ya, eh? "If I can't excel, I won't even pretend to participate. Not that I care or anything- I just have to be perfectimundo. Because wrong is just so... wrong." Wish we saw more of that attitude in karaoke bars and nightclubs... Jeez.

Moi ;) said...

Actually, they don't like us to sing mostly because of sensory issues. Most people don't sing in tune, and it's been found that sometimes it really hurts their ears - bad pitch and timbre ought to hurt everyone's ears, lol. Also - They like "sameness" - if they are used to hearing a specific voice singing a song, they don't want us to "interfere" with it. It changes it and ruins the experience for them, I guess.

Gwuinifer said...

Hmm. I guess in some cases that's all it is. But I couldn't say all cases with such authority. My little guy has a lot less of the sensory issues that are like autism in its true form; his behaviour/attitudes could be closer compared to obsessive-compulsive than to Rainman. He prefers routine, but lack of it by no means cripples him. (God, with my life the way it is, I can't imagine what it would be like if it did!)

Besides, most little ones I know sing loudly and quite off-key, my son included. I'm often surprised (being a musician myself) how well someone who has no language skills can interpret and enjoy music. I revel in it! When my son sings a song, he shows no differentation between lyrics and music. It is all part of the melody for him. He will slide directly from consonant-less interpretations of words into drum beats and guitar riffs, as if they were part of the lyric. No Veggie Tales theme song is complete without the tuba- if I dare neglect that solemn truth, he will gladly compensate for my shortcoming! The canned laughter? That's part of the song too, and needs to be sung. His insistance of sameness only extends that far.

My daughter, on the other hand, has a innate understanding of key and pitch. She started picking out and singing harmony as young as two. Which I think is the bomb, since I'm a harmony fiend myself. I sing soprano, alto, and some tenor, but alto most strongly, and can barely listen to anything without humming along a harmony under my breath. Ethan enjoys banging on the piano, discord and all, or strumming my guitar (in time- he's all about the rhythm) off-key while i sing.

The type of perfectionism I referenced is manifest only in a portion of PDD cases. I should not have made such a blanketed statement. Sorry! Its that same perfectionism that often keeps my son from speaking. He refuses to do anything he is not confident about. He will not say a word wrong, unless he's pretty sure no one is listening. He will get very shy if I correct him or ask him to say something again that was not clear, and resorts immediately to gesturing. I have to be extremely cautious with him as far as that goes! His daddy (also suspected to be on the spectrum) is the same way, and has been since he was a kid. He learned to read by listening to his big sister get lessons, but didn't tell anyone. His mom thought he was a lost cause as far as reading went, and was going to wait until he exhibited some interest in it, when one day when he was about seven he got really excited when he saw a plane in the sky, and started spouting off obscure facts about it. When asked offhandedly where he learned all that, he slipped and said, "At the library." He was not only reading, but reading dry adult reference books, as long as they sparked his interest. And that interest was the secret... Like Beth Kephardt's son. Not "savant." Just "tunnel-vision."

MOM-NOS said...

Your description of Ethan's relationship with music sounds *exactly* like Bud. The words I use to describe it to people are "for him, the foreground doesn't emerge." The melody, the instrumental, the bass line, the sharp intake of breath, the person who coughs in the studio - they are all equally relevant parts of the song. Sometimes he will start putt-putting out a rhythm, then look at me and say "Try this" which is Bud for "Hit it, Mom!" and is my cue to come in as lead singer - except, for the life of me I can't figure out what song it is he's doing.

He also stops and corrects me if I get any word in the lyrics wrong, and I need to do it over. So if I start singing the wrong verse, i.e., "Yesterday, love was such an easy game to play," he'll cue me by saying, "Try again - all my troubles seemed..." so I'll go back and do it correctly.

Interesting thing about the foreground not emerging: the same thing happens with photographs. He'll look at a picture of himself and his Dad and I'll ask "what's that a picture of?" and he'll say "Tinky Winky." And sure enough, I will look at the photograph and waaaaay in the background of the picture will be a Tinky Winky doll. But he's honed in on the part that speaks to him, and to him that is the central image in the picture.

Marta said...

too bad there's no 'like' button here you can press after reading a post.. I'd press it every time you write about what Bud says :) (or, rather, said - after all, it was some 7 years ago, but it's still brilliant!)