As a parent of an ASD child, our journey through the spectrum continues to be fascinating! Piper finds so much excitement and interest in things that myself and others take for granted and we watch as she examines every object with such shear interest and expertise. Since before Piper was a year old she loved music, in the beginning I always joked with Dan that she was going to be a singer like me. Piper and I both shared a love for music, however, unlike I had hoped, she didn't care for my singing. If I sang to her or with a song she would get angry and make her grunt noises which would equate to "Shut up Mom!!" Since Piper can't communicate verbally, she communicates in her own way which consists of a combination of grunting and running towards me with arms a flying. At that moment, I knew my singing career was over for good and sadly, it took a 2 year old toddler to deliver the horrible news I'd never make it in the music industry.
(Piper's love for music is amazing, but we've come to understand that's because she is likely on the sensory piece of the spectrum. Which by the way, we get the official spectrum placement diagnosis end of August once all of the Doctors/Occupational therapists/and various other medical professionals finish observing and testing her.)
Faced with the fact I don't have the voice of an angel like I had thought, I knew we needed to find a different approach to calm Piper. When a child on the spectrum has a tantrum there is nothing you can do except ensure your child is in a safe spot and be there when he/she finishes to let them know they are loved. (Well, that's what we do) However, there are certain "tricks of the trade" we've come to pick up on that have worked for us.
Piper was fascinated by Blues Clues. We remember her being 6 months old and how it would hold her attention and when she started teething, was upset, or having one of her episodes - Steve from Blues Clues with his "songs" would quickly calm her. So, we made sure any smart phone or DVD player we had was equipped with Blues Clues Episodes for those moments we needed an immediate calming effect especially attempting to get out of the house with her. Now that she's getting older it seemed "Steve" wasn't really doing it for her as much as he used to. One night we were watching "The Voice - Australia" and a young Australian girl named Celia Pavey was auditioning with the song "Scarborough Fair" Piper ran all the way to the Television and was immediately mesmerized. As soon as it was over she grabbed the remote control and gave it to us (Pause/Rewind live television she knows all too well) Move over Steve there is a new singer in town. Pipers obsession with Celia is fascinating! We have her audition on all of our devices - on our TV - at her grandads house - everywhere. We've found out its not the song - we've played different versions of it for her and she hears the music and rushes over, but, as soon as she hears the voice & recognizes it's not Celia, she goes back to what she was doing. Another funny thing is that Piper's Uncle Ryan, has a girlfriend that resembles Celia with her hair color and skin tone which Piper has an instant connection with. She just loves her! We may need to teach her the words of Scarborough Fair for Piper's 3rd birthday! (I posted the above video to show Piper's addiction to the tone of her voice)
I know most children find music calming as well, but Piper's ability to match tones even at a young age has always fascinated us. She has a FisherPrice keyboard that has colorful buttons on the top which play songs - and she will hit the keys to match the tone of the song on the keyboard and when she gets it wrong it upsets her to no end. What we once thought was a funny quirk about our daughter has come to be one of the most extraordinary things about her. She could just turn out to be our little Beethoven!
Erika & Dan Harvey
A blog about our journey through the spectrum with our daughter Piper. Enjoy and feel free to share with others.