This summer, we’re going to provide you with an inside glimpse of how we use music to engage two children with autism. Tymme and Graham are both drawn to music, but have very different gifts. We’ll share some of the ways in which we focus on their strengths and address their challenges through music with the hope of inspiring you to engage your own children through music.

Today, I’d like to introduce you to Tymme (pronounced Time) and what happened when she watched a video of herself.

Tymme is a shy, fairly quiet five year old. When she does speak, it is typically with a high sing-songy tone. She can be heard creating new lyrics to the tune of a familiar song such as Twinkle, Twinkle. As we slowly pulled her out of her shell during our music therapy sessions over the past year, more intentional language began to emerge. Ultimately, we were able to capture footage of Tymme singing and moving to our songs. This example of ‘The Scarf Song’ is a song we’ve done many times. On the day of this recording, she was particularly enraptured by a balloon, so there are moments when it is incorporated into the song at times. Tymme experiences light sensitivity, so the lights are pretty dim.

Her progress with the actions and language of this song has been great, but the true magic happened when we watched the video at our next session. She was riveted and did every movement exactly like it was being done in the video by herself. In the video, she is highly prompted by either her grandmother or myself, but there was something about watching herself that provided Tymme with enough support to move on her own.

Is there a particular movement or action you’d like to see your child doing more? Consider helping them with this movement while recording. If you can create a song around this or even call out the movement in a synchronized, sing-songy way, that may help even more. Try keeping it simple for your first attempt – like clapping or jumping. Then watch the video and see what happens. Watch it numerous times a day for a week and see what happens. I’d truly love to hear how this goes.

Next week: Meet Graham and see what this ‘scripter’ does in front of a mirror with a microphone.