Monday, March 15, 2010

Sing out loud, sing out strong

Before I continue telling you about the class presentation, I just want to thank you for the response that these posts are getting. I'm a bit overwhelmed, but I'm also delighted that so many of you are finding them helpful.

And now, back to the classroom, where I was talking to Bud's classmates about the way he talks.

"Some of you asked why Bud sometimes says the same things over and over and over. Have the rest of you noticed that he does that?" I asked. They all responded: yes, that is something they'd noticed.

"Okay," I said. "Now, how many of you have ever gotten a song stuck in your head?"

Every hand went up, as the students laughed with recognition.

"Have you ever had a line or two from a song stuck in your head? The same lines just keep playing in your head over and over?"

They laughed more and raised their hands higher.

"So, what happens when you have a song stuck in your head? What do you do?"

"I sing it out loud," said Kayleigh.

"Me too!" her classmates echoed.

"Me, too," I said. "And sometimes I just keep singing the same lines over and over."

"Sometimes I don't even know I'm doing it until my mom tells me to stop singing," added Kelly. And the students echoed their own experiences and their propensity to sing absentmindedly.

"That happens to Bud, too," I said. "Only for Bud, the scripts he learns from TV shows are as catchy as songs. If you listen to him when he repeats scripts, you'll notice that he says the words exactly the same way as the characters. The scripts are lyrical to him. And sometimes, those lyrics get stuck in his head, and he says them out loud."

"When I get a song stuck in my head," said Nathan, "I just try to concentrate on something really hard, like a math problem or something, to try to get the song out of my head."

"That's great," I said. "When I get a song stuck in my head, it's really hard for me to think about something like a math problem, because the song keeps getting in the way."

The students murmured with further recognition, sharing their own experience with song lyrics and distractibility.

"When I have a song in my head," said Kelly, "I'll start writing and I'll write down the words to the song."

"That's another strategy to get the song out of your head," I said.

"I think what Kelly means," Ms. Walker offered, "is that she starts writing the words to the song instead of the thing she's trying to write, without realizing that she's doing it." Kelly nodded enthusiastically.

"Oh!" I said. "Yes. When a song is stuck in our heads, we have to try to concentrate on two things at once. Sometimes the math problem gets our attention, and sometimes the song does. And remember Bud's great memory? He has a LOT of songs and a LOT of scripts in his head, that are trying to get his attention.

"Here's another question: how many of you have a favorite song?"

Hands shot up quickly.

"Does it make you feel good to sing your favorite song?"

They nodded and agreed that yes, in fact, it did make them feel good to sing their favorite songs.

"It makes Bud feel good, too. Sometimes, he just says his scripts out loud because it makes him feel good."

Tomorrow: Question #4 - Why does Bud run in circles? Why does he need movement breaks?


Pia said...

Its midnight, and I just got home from work, but I couldn't go to bed until I checked for the next installment. I even directed people from my blog to you... this is too good not to share.


Ange said...

I'm not sure if I should be embarrassed by this or not, but this is helping me "get" my youngest with autism. I get my oldest (also on the spectrum, but waaaay different). It's the little one whom I often don't get, and this is helping. Thanks!

Ange said...

BTW the way, I now have to attempt to go to bed humming "Sing...sing a song..." I'm not thanking you for that one.

Larry Arnold PhD FRSA said...

Trouble is if a particular word or set of words triggers a strongly remembered phrase from a song or even more so advertising jingle, then whatever I am saying gets derailed until I have finished the phrase from said song or jingle bells jingle bells jingle all the way :)

Niksmom said...

Keep 'em coming, Mom-NOS! I'm laughing at Ange's comment about going to bed w/the song in her mind. Heh heh.

Anonymous said...

I'm very impressed at how well you're able to explain Bud in an age-appropriate way. We were approached to do a similar presentation for our G, but ended up deferring to the school psychologist because I just couldn't make the ideas come together.

Bea said...

These posts are the highlight of my day - I find myself thinking of them all day long.

Usethebrains Godgiveyou said...

Thanks. I never saw things the way you are seeing them. Bud is lucky to have your understanding.

I knew you had knocked my socks off before, and I searched for it...

misscricket66 said...

As we read your most recent entry together this afternoon, we both burst into song ourselves with huge smiles on our faces as we remembered the lyrics from our childhood:

“Sing, sing a song, sing out loud, sing out strong!

Sing of good things not bad, sing of happy not sad. Just sing, sing a song, make it simple to last your whole life long!

Don’t worry that its not good enough for anyone else to hear, just sing, sing a song.”

Such a simple song contains such wonderful advice on how to live life, and reminded the two of us that in our classroom, we do an awful lot of carefree singing as we navigate though each day.

And so, as I walked out to the car with my face tilted towards the sun filled brilliant blue sky this afternoon on the way to our chorus concert, I found myself singing the familiar refrain once again...

Thanks for the flash back to childhood, MOM-NOS!

DianaB. said...

Even though you wrote this article months ago, I ran across it just by chance. In my quest to see if my son is autistic, I read this blog and was relieved that certain things your son does, mine does as well. I had always been at a loss when it came to understand his look at things, but thanks to you, I am not totally lost. Thank you for openly talking about your adventures with your son! It's truly a breath of fresh air!! Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for the earworm analogy. I feel like I "get" my nephew (or at least some of his behaviors) in a way I really didn't before.