As with any tween or teen, Michael loves to unwind and regulate by listening to music, all types of music, though his favorites are pop rock and hip hop. Seeing him listening to music on his portable radio with or without headphones and sometimes watching music videos, I am reminded of myself at that age. Even his rocking while listening to music reminds me a little of me. Ok, I didn’t rock the way he does as I don’t have autism and it was not in a stimming sort of way, but I see his love of the music, beat, and how it soothes and excites him at the same time. He does not look much different than any teen or tween when he is doing it.
The thing is getting him off the electronics is tough. As for any kid today, the allure of its immediacy is only too great. I am glad that though his tastes are changing vis a vis parks and going to stores, he at least will still do long walks with me and I am looking forward to doing bike rides together this summer when we have more time. Still, even with it being difficult to get him out of the house, I like the fact that he connects so easily to music. He reminds me of me when I was his age. “Michael, who sings that song?” “Michael, what is the title of that song?” And 99% of the time he knows the answer to both questions. He also likes to talk about what my favorite songs are. The other day in the car when a song came on we both liked he said, “Hey, that’s cool. We both like the same song.”
I truly believe, especially with the all the tumultuous emotions Michael is experiencing in puberty so far, that music and song lyrics are one of the things that are keeping him grounded. He also has something additional to discuss with me. As his tastes change and he moves away from the sporty young boy who wanted to kick the ball in the park with me, I can now have discussions about musical genres, directions, and other topics he likes to bring up when we are in the car together or on long walks. This is where I am still able to bond with him, to share and ask him what he is feeling, and to remind him he is loved, respected, and that I am there for him.
Exceptional Parents, has music helped build a bridge from your child to you when they were little or older? For many children, they sing before they talk, so music plays a very important role in communication. For others, parents and their child/dren can learn songs together, talk about different genres, and share how music helps them heal from trauma and stress. Whatever the way it is used, music can really help a child learn, regulate and find their way in the world with other people. Try and see if this is something you and your child can bond over. Until next time.