Autistic child in band - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 7 Old 09-11-2013, 11:57 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I am sorry in advance if this is a touchy subject and causes offense or hurt feelings. I don't mean to offend at all. I am the sister of a special needs kid, the proud aunt of an autistic child, and I work in peds nursing and most of the patients I treat have special needs.

Anyway, so my daughter is in Jr. High band this year and hoping to join marching band in high school. She plays percussion. The high school has invited the Jr. High kids to participate in the halftime show of the next home game. At the rehearsal there was a Jr. High boy who was autistic. He played percussion, too. He did not want to wear the harness that holds the drum whih I totally get. The band director made arrangements for him and his mom to carry the drum to the marching positions so he could play it. I think that's great and I am glad to see inclusion for kids who can participate and contribute to the band. I have seen kids march while pushed in wheelchairs, and guided while being blind. All very cool.

 

What I have the issue with is the kid is not able to play drums along with everyone else. He keeps playing when the other stop, and it's disruptive. I found out that he is also in the concert band and will be going to the festivals where the bands compete for scores. From what I observed he is not even close to playing the music. He is pretty much doing his own thing and his mom will hold his sticks to stop him several seconds after everyone else has stopped.  I just don't think he should be a part of the band for the competitive events. If he wants to be in the band rehearsals, great. I think it's good for him and for the other kids, too. If he can do something else in the band during performances, great.

When it comes down to it, it's not a matter of his being disabled. It's a matter of him not being able to play the music. The band teacher expects all the kids to be able to play the music and if they don't pass the tests to show they can play it, they are sometimes not allowed to compete. Same with any activity--  for example if a kid is not able to understand the rules of soccer, they are not put in a soccer game when there are points at stake. The band director and the parents have been placed into an awkward situation. 

 

What do you think? I am not in a situation to be able to do anything about this, but what could be some possible solutions for this young man who obviously wants to participate? 


7yo: "Mom,I know which man is on a quarter and which on is on a nickel. They both have ponytails, but one man has a collar and the other man is naked. The naked man was our first president."
 
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#2 of 7 Old 09-11-2013, 01:01 PM
 
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I'm with you.  If it's for competition, then everyone needs to be able to compete without holding the team back.  My daughter can't run, so she doesn't play competitive sports.  She'd like to, but she would either ride the bench or hold a team back and its not fair if, no matter how hard the rest of the team works, they can never win because one person can't fully participate in a fundamental way.  That's just how it is.  We find non-competitive ways for her to do sports.  I suspect there's a non-competitive band opportunity for this young person as well.

 

I'm all for accommodations as much as possible and including everyone, but when it comes to competition there are limits.  I have felt what it's like to be the parent of the child who can't compete.  It's hard to explain, but I get it. 

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#3 of 7 Old 09-11-2013, 02:04 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by USAmma View Post
 

...

When it comes down to it, it's not a matter of his being disabled. It's a matter of him not being able to play the music. The band teacher expects all the kids to be able to play the music and if they don't pass the tests to show they can play it, they are sometimes not allowed to compete. Same with any activity--  for example if a kid is not able to understand the rules of soccer, they are not put in a soccer game when there are points at stake. The band director and the parents have been placed into an awkward situation. 

 

What do you think? I am not in a situation to be able to do anything about this, but what could be some possible solutions for this young man who obviously wants to participate? 

 

I don't understand. Is the teacher going to allow him to compete just b/c of his "disability" even though he can't pass whatever tests the others have to in order to compete? I don't see how this is awkward. If he is being mainstreamed, doesn't that mean he is being treated the like the rest of the kids and held to the same standards, just with some extra assistance where it's needed? It seems like they will not let him compete, but allow him to be "on the team," so to speak. I see nothing wrong with that. Maybe he can be in charge of instruments or uniforms or snacks or something that is in line with his interests and abilities. I'm not there yet (my kids are still small) but I would imagine that if my SN child wanted to do something like this, I would not only support him, but I would support the group too, and part of that is knowing when he should sit on the sidelines for the greater good. (Or better yet, as you suggested, find a different way to be a part of his team.)

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#4 of 7 Old 09-11-2013, 02:08 PM
 
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You bring up a good point. Maybe he's not competing?

This also reminds me that not all school bands have try outs, many take everyone and if that's the case, he is part of everyone and should be allowed, I would think.
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#5 of 7 Old 09-11-2013, 03:16 PM
 
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Seems like maybe the answer is the mom?  If she is there to help him (which it sounds like), shouldn't SHE learn the music and be more proactive in getting him in tune (so to speak) with the rest of the band?  Otherwise, I agree that it's not fair to have him competing, but it's also not clear to me that he will be.

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#6 of 7 Old 09-11-2013, 04:10 PM
 
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Our high school marching band is by tryouts....so, this boy  wouldn't even make it to the final cuts.

 

At first, I was really upset about this, because my daughter was one of the last chairs for her instrument.  But, we put her in lessons, and band camp, then before her freshman year, she improved enough to be on the band.  

 

They were AMAZING too.  They even went to Canada, and Disneyland and other competitions and parades where often won.  

 

They also had a kid named Brandon.  Brandon was older than my daughter and had severe delays.  He didn't play an instrument, but he was part of the band, The band wasn't the same when he graduated.  He was the best thing that ever happened to them.  So, i'm glad he was included.  

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#7 of 7 Old 09-17-2013, 11:03 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I just wanted to update that they had the marching event and the boy did really great. He wore his soundproof headphones and with his mom at his side he walked to the designated place and he beat his drum. No one heard that he was off beat in the crowd and the other drums and I have to say, I thought his mom had great courage to let her son have that experience. I don't know if competitions will be an issue yet. I jumped the gun on that one. But I am glad for him and the other kids that he had the opportunity to participate in the non- competitive event. :-)


7yo: "Mom,I know which man is on a quarter and which on is on a nickel. They both have ponytails, but one man has a collar and the other man is naked. The naked man was our first president."
 
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