Autistic boy hates music

Discussion in 'First Grade' started by MissFroggy, Aug 27, 2008.

  1. MissFroggy

    MissFroggy Aficionado

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    Aug 27, 2008

    I have a boy in my class who MAY be autistic. They are on the waiting list at the University to get him tested. Anyway, apparently, music makes him crawl under a table and hold his ears and scream!!

    I teach SO much through music! His parents said he does have ear muffs. This is going to change all my plans!! What would you do?

    Currently, I play music during arrival (quiet, classical)
    There is clean up music
    A lining up song
    song/poem of the week
    our literacy program includes songs that teach certain skils

    It doesn't seem fair to the rest of the class...
     
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  3. corps2005

    corps2005 Cohort

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    Can he just wear his ear muffs?

    Can the school system do the testing or recommend someone that can expedite the process? I think if the parents really wanted it done fast, they would be able to. No one likes to deal with a persistent, angry parent. :p
     
  4. smgreen78

    smgreen78 Rookie

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    I wouldn't play music. Though I love it, there are other ways to teach.

    I have had kids that can't dance, so no dancing.

    I have kids that don't celebrate holidays, so no holidays.

    Part of our job is to make everyone feel safe and loved.
     
  5. SpecialPreskoo

    SpecialPreskoo Moderator

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    You know, one thing he needs to learn is adjustment to music. If he were to go out in public and there is music going on somewhere, you can't always stop the music because he's in the area. I've had one a couple of years ago that didn't like for me to sing (ok, I can't carry a tune in a bucket, but that's beside the point...lol) but I kept singing because others did learn from the songs. Everyone must feel safe and loved, true, but he also needs to learn that somethings in the world can't be changed. Will every future teacher of his be expected to no have music because he has a fit? This isn't like a peanut allergy that has to be avoided, they can't adjust to peanuts but he can learn to deal with the music. They do make those sound muffling headphones. He may need those. I have students in my room that can't walk and may or may not have legs but I don't skip over the "stomp your feet" when we do If you're happy and you know it... they do what they can.

    just my 2 cents
     
  6. smgreen78

    smgreen78 Rookie

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    It's not that he doesn't like music, as much as he has a disability that causes him to have a strong reaction to it. I don't think it is acceptable to expose him to something that causes such a severe reaction in him.

    Just because autism affects a child cognitively instead of physically doesn't mean a child can just get over the affects of it by exposure to something.

    I personally would try to avoid something in my classroom that makes one of my children scream and crawl under the tables. It's not like he is choosing to be naughty.
     
  7. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    Music is such an important part of a regular elementary classroom that I would hate to refrain from including it. Silly putty used as ear plugs might help. Otherwise, he may need a quieter environment.
     
  8. Historyteaching

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    I would find out why he doesn't like it...is it too loud? Has he never heard it because there isn't any playing in the home? I've had numerous autistic children in my class..elementary and high school, I don't take something away from the ENTIRE class just because of one. If someone can't have red juice, give them water or purple juice. I'd not stop celebrating the holidays because of one student. Those students are used to adjusting themselves to the situations. In the big world, everyone must adjust to things that suit them-might as well start teaching them at a young age that not all places/people are accomodating and they must learn to adjust.
    Once the student is identified, I would talk to a counselor or a therapist who is trained in autism to see what you can do/can't do to assist him-until then, use the earmuffs. They must be usedfor that purpose and work for the parents to mention/suggest it.
     
  9. MissFroggy

    MissFroggy Aficionado

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    He is not identified yet. He wore headphones today during our weekly assembly (which includes singing) but ended up going into the classroom and hiding.

    As for music, he doesn't seem to notice the quiet morning music and doesn't like the line-up song, but I guess he likes PE and library and whatnot enough to sing the song.
     
  10. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    Unfortunately, learning to deal with music IS something this child must learn to deal with. Think about how many places play music in the background. You can't walk into the mall, grocery store, office supply store, many doctor's offices, ect without hearing music. This is probably why the parents suggested the earmuffs...they must use them in these situations.

    As far as some of the analogies are concerned...we don't stop dancing because a child is in a wheelchair, we teach them how to use their upper bodies and "dance" that way. We don't tell a child with no hands that he doesn't have to learn to write; we teach him how to use a specialized computer to complete writing assignments. Life doesn't stop for a person with a disability, and if you try to adjust the entire class for such a thing, not only are you being unfair to the rest of the class, you are limiting the disabled child's chance to grow and develop.

    It is our job as teachers to expand the worlds of all children, and, as such, we teach disabled children how to cope and function in the real world. Anything less is a disservice to the child, the class, and society as a whole.
     
  11. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    Ditto.
     
  12. smgreen78

    smgreen78 Rookie

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    Sep 6, 2008

    According to the Center for the Study of Autism:
    " Every autistic child or adult is different. A sound or sight, which is painful to one autistic child, may be attractive to another. The flicker of fluorescent lighting can be seen by some children with autism and may be distracting to them. It is mostly likely to cause sensory overload in children who flick their fingers in front of their eyes. Replacing fluorescents with incandescent bulbs will be helpful for some children. Many children with autism are scared of the public address system, the school bells or the fire alarms, because the sound hurts their ears. Screeching electronic feedback from public address systems or the sound of fire alarms are the worst sounds because the onset of the sound canNOT be predicted. Children with milder hearing sensitivity can sometimes learn to tolerate hurtful sounds when they know when they will occur. However, they may NEVER learn to tolerate UNexpected loud noise. Autistic children with severe hearing sensitivity should be removed from the classroom prior to a fire drill. The fear of a hurtful sound may make an autistic child fearful of a certain classroom. He may become afraid to go into the room because he fears that the fire alarm or the public address systems may make a hurtful sound."

    They never learn to tolerate it.

    I think music is wonderful in classrooms, I use it everyday. When children with autism are in my classroom, I don't use it.

    Autism is a neurobehavioral disorder. I actually find it offensive that someone compared it to a child picking juice colors. It's not a choice to be autistic.

    My dad's diabetic. I don't feed him sugar and tell him to get used to it just because it's in most food.

    I also find it ironic that someone can post about how they do not change something in their class for one student, then says that people are not accommodating.

    Music is one of those things that every child either hears or doesn't hear. It's not like you can really have it only for a few people that can physically tolerate it, but not for the other children.

    While it is a loss, there are other ways to teach that are effective and will not physically hurt one of your students (it is physical because it impairs their ability to function).

    I can't believe how many people are not willing to adjust to accommade a students' physical needs.

    Miss Froggy, I applaud you for seeking out support and trying different techniques to differentiate for your students. I do hope you find a way to include music in your classroom.

    I've read a lot of your posts, and you appear to be a teacher with a big heart that will do what's best for your students. Good luck.



    (Edited for spelling)
     
  13. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    While I agree with much of the above posts, I take issue with the comparison to diabetes. Sugar is something that a person can successfully avoid for the rest of his or her life. Music is not. If we want this child to be a functioning member of society when he grows up, then we need to teach him how to tolerate music. Notice I never said, "play music like you always have and tell him to just deal with it". I said teach the child to be able to deal with music. Music is everywhere. It's in stores, elevators, offices, radiating from people's headphones, ect. Not doing so is condeming this child to a less than full life, and to do so under the guise of "accomidation" is taking the easy way out.
     
  14. trayums

    trayums Enthusiast

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    That's really hard! Can you turn the songs into rhythmic chants? That would be my thought.
     
  15. smgreen78

    smgreen78 Rookie

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    My comparison to diabetes was to show it, like autism is not a choice. It was in response to comparing it to children being picky about juice colors/flavors.

    Some children with autism will be able to learn to tolerate music, some will not. I do think it's in the best interest to try to find a way for the child to be exposed to music, if that's what the child needs to learn. I just feel like there are other ways to teach a child. I think the easy way out is just playing the music anyway. It is much more difficult to find new ways of instructing.
     
  16. mandagap06

    mandagap06 Devotee

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    You took the words right out of my mouth with the weelchair situation. I was going to say that too. LOL!! Smart minds think alike huh!! HAHA!
     
  17. smgreen78

    smgreen78 Rookie

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    I guess we just see things differently. I don't see how it can be compared to someone in a wheelchair. If a child with autism has a sensory componant, the noise hurts their brain. You can't have them use some other part of their body. To me, it's not like teaching a child in a wheelchair to dance with their arms, it's like asking them to use their legs anyways.
     
  18. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    I think you can slowly expose it throughout the year, with sensitivity to the type of music the child is willing to accept. To want to keep the music just because that's the way you normally teach isn't fair to the child. I'm with smgreen on this one.
     
  19. smgreen78

    smgreen78 Rookie

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    Funny, before I even got the end of your post I was already thinking that I like your thinking.

    I totally agree that throughout the year, you can slowly expose the student to music they can tolerate.
     
  20. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    See, I just don't buy into the idea that some will never be able to learn. I think all children can be taught to at least be able to tolerate certain things. I am also not without experience. I have a diabetic child and a child with CP (with sensory issues). My cousin has an autistic child and another child with downs syndrome. All four of these children live very full lives.

    My child with sensory issues has a hard time dealing with loud noises. Even a year ago, if a balloon popped in his general vacinity, he freaked out. I did not ban balloons from my home; instead I taught my child, little by little, to deal with sudden loud noises. He's not perfect, but he now has a coping mechanism. He is also very fearful of new situations. He was terrified of ice skating and swimming. Over the course of many months, first with the ice skating, then with the swimming, I taught him to do both activites. It's now nearly impossible to pry him off the ice or fish him out of a pool.

    My cousin has similarly worked with her children. Her autistic child must rely on coping mechanisims in certain situations, but he doesn't have to miss out on any parts of life either. He freaked out when meeting new people. She worked with him for years before he was able to learn to deal with new people. Like my CP child, its still not comfortable for him, but he has coping mechanisims and he can function when there are new people around. Her downs syndrome child reads above grade level and speaks french and latin in addtion to her native english (her math skills and writing skills are a little below grade level, but they're working on that as well.)

    Both my cousin and I have spent countless hundreds of hours with our children teaching them to deal with the parts of life that don't come easy to them. Neither one of us bought into the line that just because they had some issue meant they'd never lead a normal life.

    The real world is a very unaccomadating place. I want my children and my students to be able to succeed in that world, not just this false protective world we've created in the education system. It is my job, and the job of every other parent and teacher to teach children how to succeed in the real world. Some children will take more work, but they can still learn to cope with the realities of life. Giving them excuses condems them to failure; teaching them coping/survival tools gives them the world.
     
  21. smgreen78

    smgreen78 Rookie

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    I totally agree with you! I just don't agree with some of the other philosophies on this post that are stating, basically, "do it anyways." "Don't change for one child."

    There is a very different thing you are saying. If I am reading it correctly, you are stating that this child should learn to cope with loud noises. I AGREE. I just don't think that simply going on with music and slapping ear muffs on him is going to teach those coping mechanisms.
     
  22. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    I suppose we just dissagree on some minor points. As the parent of a child with sensory issues I don't like hearing the phrase "they can't". They most certainly CAN...some of them just take more work than others.
     
  23. smgreen78

    smgreen78 Rookie

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    OH, and I hope that I did not come across as though I thought I am an expert and you are not. Reguardless of your personal or professional history with children who have special needs, I would not want to come across as insulting of your knowledge. I apologize if I did.
     
  24. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    Oh, and my point with the wheelchair analogy is this:

    The child in a wheelchair must figure out another way to "dance", deal with the fact the he/she is not "normal", and watch everybody around him/her use their legs. He or she must develop a coping mechanisim for those feelings, while at the same time figure out how he or she can participate in this very common life activity.

    The autistic child (or any other child) with sensory issues must deal with the fact that the other kids don't seem to have the same issues, find a way of coping with the noise that's "hurting his brain", and find a way to participate in this very common life activity.

    It's much easier for people to see how to deal with the child in the wheelchair--you teach him to dance with the upper body. The child with sensory issues is different, and much more difficult (even more so since every kid is different), but that doesn't take away our responsibility to find a way to teach that child to handle the situation. It just means we should work harder.
     
  25. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    It's a bit of a testy subject. I can sometimes read stuff the wrong way. I looked back at the rest of the thread and realized that there were other posts you were probably refering to more than mine. I'm just a firm believer in NOT limiting children's futures, not matter how much work it takes.
     
  26. Special-t

    Special-t Enthusiast

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    Could you create a small area in your room - perhaps with room divider and pillows or beanbag. He could curl up there with a favorite activity and his headphones?
    Give him permission to "hide" there when the music bothers him.

    ... Just till his testing is completed and he can be moved to an appropriate classroom.

    I agree that he might be able to learn toleration for music, but that's not for a general elementary teacher to experiment with. He may (or may not) learn to be exposed to music - but it should be in a special ed class with a plan created by professionals. :2cents:

    Can your school psychologist recommend an evaluation to take place sooner than later?
     
  27. MissFroggy

    MissFroggy Aficionado

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    Our meeting is next week!! The testing will take place in the month of September, just not sure when. As far as I'm concerned, he really needs to be in a special ed classroom. He was in a program over the summer with 2 children in his class and did brilliantly! I gave him a hiding place under my desk, which he likes. The problem I have with him now is all day long he sits under there and screams "Go Home!" over and over again!!! I have had the counselor come and take him out, but she is not full time and can't do that every day!
     
  28. Historyteaching

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    Yes, I was the one that made the example of picking juice drinks. I am not a brutal who cares person and was not comparing it directly to the juice. I had a student last year, a high school autistic student, who we led out before the fire drill went off..1. because he doesn't like all that rush of people in the hallway and 2. the noise hurts his ears (in fact, it hurts all of our ears).
    As mmswm said:
    The autistic child (or any other child) with sensory issues must deal with the fact that the other kids don't seem to have the same issues, find a way of coping with the noise that's "hurting his brain", and find a way to participate in this very common life activity.

    THAT is what I am getting at..Why make the child think they can never listen to music? I don't mean blast the stuff-make it lower, introduce it in small doses. I take offensive that because I don't agree or that I do say things that you find offensive, I'm not credited with having a big heart and wanting the best for my students. It is much the contrary.
    My post isn't about, oh take the easy way out and just make the deal-by NO means am I stating that. Obviously, you want to incorporate what you feel is best to teach your students, music or no music. I am not one to take the 'easy way out', but tend to put much more pressure on myself, however that's neither here nor there. In the big world, those with sensory issues or whatever issues, will quickly realize that the accommodations aren't always made for their benefit and comfort. Its a shame, but its true. I know what will be said-these aren't adults, they are children. Well, we are teachers and isn't it our job to not only teach the academia, but how to survive in the world (along with the parents-when it happens)?
    Everyone will just have to disagree with me and 'beat' down my opinion, but its how I perceive it, I've worked with autistic children and they left my room no worse for wear and no parent complaints, so I guess I'm doing something right somewhere.
     
  29. Historyteaching

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    By the way, I did not say picky over juice colors as in they don't like the color thus not wanting to drink it, I was referring to allergies with certain juice colors, yes, there are children who cannot have anything 'red'. And yes, its not their choice, they are born like that-similar to autism.
     
  30. smgreen78

    smgreen78 Rookie

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    A. I never said you were brutal (I don't even know you).
    B. I am not suggesting that you make the child think he can never listen to music.
    C. You say that I should tell you have a big heart but again, I don't know you. Just because I don't agree with you doesn't mean I think you are a terrible person.
    D. The comment about taking the easy way out was not directed at you. It was directed at the person that said "taking the easy way out" in their post.
    E. And in response to "Everyone will just have to disagree with me and 'beat' down my opinion, but its how I perceive it, I've worked with autistic children and they left my room no worse for wear and no parent complaints, so I guess I'm doing something right somewhere." Most people actually agreed with you, not me. I don't take offense to that. They just disagree with me. I realize that if I post an opinion, there is a chance that some will agree and some will not. It's not a charactor attack. We just have different strategies.

    I think this thread is getting way off track (which I helped do, though I didn't mean to). I apologize again, this time more broadly, to anyone I offended by stating my thoughts on this subject.

    Froggy, let me say again, that I hope all goes well at your meeting that you get some support!
     
  31. Historyteaching

    Historyteaching Cohort

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    Nothing wrong with stating your thoughts, we all do that its why we come on here, to get opinions of all variety. I know you don't know me and vice versa, I did not stake claim that you called me brutal-that was my own wordage. And, I do agree with you on that people will agree/disagree with whomever. I just chose to respond that you took offense to my 'juice color' comment and chose to clarify my interpretation and experience. No one has to say I have a big heart-I probably shouldn't have stated that, it was a bit immature-ish on my part, I apologize. Most of us are in the profession because we care about students, bottom line.
    I don't see anything wrong with a thread starting out one way, someone asking an opinion and then having a healthy discussion over what we feel about the topic. None of us were truly nasty and cursing, that is when it would get a bit bad. I'm all for 'arguments' and disagreeing opinions-its what makes us better in our lives and able to talk with all people.
     
  32. fuzzybunnie

    fuzzybunnie Rookie

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    Sep 13, 2008

    I'm coming to this thread a little late, but I just wanted to say that I totally agree with Special-T that this boy's issues need to be addressed by a specialist. Acomodation/differentiation is one thing, modification of extreme disruptive behavior is something else. I hope this student gets the help he needs as soon as possible. He's very lucky, though, to have a teacher who cares and is trying to do the right thing.
     
  33. cosmoteach

    cosmoteach Rookie

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    Sep 15, 2008

    I am late to the thread too...but I have had a student just like this! He ended up going to a children's hospital for several issues (this was just one). However, he know has it written into his IEP, that he does not have to go to music class and can skip assemblies.
     

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