Friday, November 21, 2008

The boy who just says oui

...was agitated when I arrived for the music class.
He is a large, slow moving and usually placid teenager. He is very gentle and the other students like to come and place their palms on his cheek.
His habits lead him unerringly, as though on tram rails, through the routines of Thursdays. He is never hurried but he always heads straight to the music room and sits in his chair the moment I place it in position. He waits patiently as I try to get the two others into the room and persuade them to sit still. Sometimes he claps his hands together sharply and listens to the echoes in the room and grins.
But this Thursday, he hurried towards me when I went to collect them at the meeting room.
He stopped in front of me, his face uncomfortably close.
He gestured behind him with his thumb.
And then he mimed steering the wheel of a car.
He placed his thumb on his cheek and gestured forward.
And he made a triangular shape with his hands.
He continued to mime driving a car to me with increasing agitation.
The carer explained to me that yesterday he had been out in the car and they had been for a long walk. And tomorrow he is going in the car to see his family at his house.
But he wants to get in the car now and go now.
I tell him that it is music time and when we make up the songs we will do one for him about visiting home.
Next to the music room is an area with art materials.
I put the chairs into position and he takes my hand and leads me to the art area and shows me a beautiful mosaic of the sea and a dolphin in delicate shades of blue.
It is a present for his mother.
He takes me back there three times to show me before he can settle to music.
We sing a song about home and presents and mums.


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Such touching stories of your students. I admire your patience and understanding, and they are responding to you. A very dear friend of mine worked for some years with autistic students in the school system here, so I have just a tiny idea of what you are feeling.

Anil P said...

I could imagine every moment the story traced, each touching and mellow in the warmth they exude.

Daisy said...

Oh this is heartbreaking, how touching. You are so good to be making such a difference.

Rosie said...

now Lady P, get a grip...
marja-leena, yes, one needs to be patient, but there is a simplicity and truth about what happens when I work with them that is very rewarding for a musician.They are a public who dont know how to be polite. So it is obvious when they like something and when they dont!
Anil P , nice you have come by again...
Daisy, all I want to do is to show that autistic people have emotions just like anyone else, but they cant show it in the same way. And they all different individuals ...just like us.

Anonymous said...

I love these stories. This is one of the best short stories I've ever read -- the fact that it is true makes it even better.

Omykiss said...

Amazing - both you and your story!

Anonymous said...

All good teaching - all really positive and productive work with kids generally - is a hardheaded, unsentimental process and you're right to emphasise the 'simplicity and truth' underpinning what goes on. But it does take an unusual synthesis of head and heart to work with kids whose experience of the world is as different as is your students'. Our Reuben is only marginally Asperger's, but even at his level of functioning a very particular kind of negotiation is needed at times. So - credit where it's due, Rosie!

Lucy said...

Wonderful. You dear thing.

Rosie said...

dingo, yes it is true
Omy, Dick and Lucy, there is nothing extraordinary about what I do...I just play music to them!
But feels good that I have won their trust

meggie said...

This made me cry.