Sunday, September 28, 2008

Music to my ears

I haven't blogged lately about autism and our challenges and progress. I thought I would share something interesting that's been going on the last couple of weeks: Austin has become a fan of Blue October (a music group that I learned about through my obsession with the Twilight Saga series of books).

Side note here: Blue October is what I would consider alternative/hard rock, though I'm not really familiar with what they would consider themselves to be, or what the current terms are. Their music is edgy and there are some curse words in their songs that are blanked out in the versions I've purchased. Just wanted to forewarn anyone who might be interested in checking out their music but for whom this is a deal-breaker. In our family, we allow a wider variety of media (especially music) than I know many homeschool families allow. If you are interested in the music of Blue October (which I cannot recommend highly enough!!), you would probably want to listen to it first without your children around! ;) Ok, back to the story ---

So, a 12 year old likes a music group. This is news, you may be thinking? For Austin, it is indeed!

Austin has never been able to identify things he likes. He couldn't tell us which toys he liked (he never played with them anyway), what kind of birthday party he wanted (we would always pick one based on what we perceived his current obsession to be), what kind of shirt he wanted to wear, what his favorite color was (he would tell us white for YEARS!). Once we learned more about autism and through our understanding of RDI, we came to understand that this was a problem in not understanding who he is, that he has a mind and that he can have preferences that are different from others. Also, for Austin, he has always been very intent on making sure everyone was happy, in order to keep control over situations (people who are upset are very unpredictable).

We first noticed that he was developing preferences back in May around his birthday. He requested a cake from Publix and he was quite specific about the kind of cake: white cake, green balloons on it, green writing. We were SO excited that he had expressed a preference, I think we would have paid $1000 for such a cake if we had to! LOL

This is how the Blue October thing has played out: I started listening to them in August, after watching the Breaking Dawn release party concert series live streaming (click on the link to watch the video) on the internet. I purchased the mp3 download of their most recent album immediately after the concert, and fell in love with it!! I decided after several listenings that the kids could listen, also (except for one song that I don't want Reece listening to called "Hate Me" --- she has a problem still with repeating things she hears). So we've been listening to Blue October as a family for about a month.

Recently, when we've been getting in the van, Austin will turn on the mp3 player right away and putting on Blue October. He tells me he is doing it to make ME happy! But then I catch him out of the corner of my eye tapping along with the music! When I asked him if he likes Blue October he just says, "It's good!" But he has this smile on his face that I know means that he really likes something but is too overwhelmed to express it verbally!

I found out through a friend that it's possible to put media files on a PSP, so I thought Austin might like me to put Blue October on his PSP for him. When I mentioned this yesterday he got VERY upset. He told me that he didn't think that was allowed (putting music on the PSP). I showed him on his PSP that there was a spot for music, and then I dropped the subject.

A couple of hours later, Austin came to tell me that I could put music on his PSP later in the evening. This was definite progress, too. A few hours to come to terms with an abrupt surprise is a huge difference from the months it used to take him! I can remember him getting new games for his Gameboy at Christmas, and he would finally open them in June to play with them! Now he gets a new PSP game and plays it right away --- but this was a whole new way to use his PSP. To use an RDI concept, it was 'Same but Different' and that can take a little getting used to.

Last night I got distracted with lesson planning so I didn't get around to putting the music on his PSP, so I did it this morning. It took me a little while to figure it out, because I am NOT technology savvy! I let Austin watch me puzzle the problem out, look up information on the internet, and generally not let myself get overwhelmed by frustration (heck that's a lesson for me, too --- I can't STAND it when I can't understand something right away). In the end, we got the music on his PSP!

He listened to it for a moment with that same "happy but overwhelmed" smile on his face. I asked him if he wanted more music on there, like Muse (which is another Twilight Saga band that I have been introduced too, but it is a different style of music -- alternative again, perhaps, but not so much hard rock as Blue October). He said that he was OK right now with just Blue October, but maybe another time I could put other music on! :) That works well for me!

To completely press my luck, I asked him if he wanted a couple of baseball pictures on his PSP to show people. He looked at me in shock and asked if that was allowed. I showed him the icon on the PSP for pictures, so he said sure! I put 2 pictures of him pitching and one of him batting, and showed him how to access them.

Then he put his PSP in his room! LOL I bet I will find him listening to music or looking at the pictures later on this evening, when he has come to terms with it --- a few hours, instead of a few months! Sure, it's not what you would expect from a typical 12 year old boy, but for Austin, it's definitely progress. And that's music to my ears! :)


Lisa said...

That's sooo cool! To be able to identify his progress that way!

JamBerry said...

Oh wow! That IS so cool! Austin's finding his self, and developing his self. He's gonna be more Austin than ever, and that's just terrific!!

Jan said...

How awesome!!!!! Definitely something to be excited about.

SmrfChic said...


The Glasers said...

Austin is ahead of the curve . . . David got into music last July (2007) and life has never been the same . . .

Good luck!!!! :-)

Sherry said...

I am so proud of you both! It's so great that you can see the progress in such a tangible way! All the work paying off! It's great!e