Client Spotlight: Meet Nathan
“I was looking for a place that would help him utilize his gifts and promote growth in verbal communication along with his musical expressions. I was looking for a place to help him learn to understand his emotions and be able to express them, all through fun, hands-on play.” – Robin (aka Mom)
Nathan is a 13 year old who has been receiving individual Music Therapy services for almost a year and a half. Nathan has the biggest heart, and recently made a video tribute to the essential workers during the COVID-19 crisis. He, like myself (Macayla), is a taco aficionado, feels music very deeply, and loooves to tell stories. He has an incredible sense of rhythm and can copy the most complex patterns I can come up with. (Seriously, this guy keeps me on my toes–and I have a music degree!) It has been an incredible joy to work with Nathan over the past year and a half.
Why Music Therapy?
Robin: Nathan has always, since he was a small baby, had a knack and desire for listening to more than one thing at a time (preferably music). I have counted him keeping track of and enjoying up to four different songs or musical “things.” While verbal, he doesn’t really know how to say or understand what he is feeling, which is part of his autism. If you pay attention to his song choices, you will find he is in sync with them and they are expressing his emotions and feelings. Many times, he wants to talk about it, but he doesn’t have the words, either because he hasn’t learned how to pronounce them, doesn’t know what words tie to which emotions, or doesn’t have a person’s attention long enough to share. He speaks very slowly. Talk therapy was not ever going to help him see a connection between his talents and the ideas he was working to communicate.”
Have you seen any growth?
“I have seen so much growth. Music Therapy is a fun way for him to get the therapy he needs in a way that’s not always difficult. It’s something that he looks forward to every week. I’ve seen increased maturity and increased focus. He actually uses his breath, and he enunciates more, both in and outside of his Music Therapy sessions.
“I think that Music Therapy works well in conjunction with Speech Therapy because it’s a fun way for him to practice enunciating speech, conversation, and sharing. He has to share the conversation with you and take turns.
“Nathan has always done a little bit of speaking through songs, but I think now he’s getting words to tell me his emotions as well. I’ve heard him singing songs, not just humming them, and 3 or 4 times now, he’s actually put on a performance.”
What do you think about Music Therapy? I like it.
What is your favorite part? The drumming.
Do you remember when you first started coming to Music Therapy, and I thought you were going to break all my drums? Ha. Ha. Yes.
Do you think it’s the same or different now? Different.
Why? I’ve been good on the drums.
You’ve learned to express many different emotions on the drum, haven’t you? Yes.
[While Nathan used to play loud, driving beats no matter how he was prompted to play, he now easily plays a range of volumes, tempos, as well as different ways of expressing emotions including: happy, excited, mad, frustrated, silly, scared, and stressed — all accompanied by fabulous facial expressions, by the way.]
What would you say to parents who might want their kids to have Music Therapy? Do you think other kids should do music therapy, too? Other kids
How has it been having telehealth Music Therapy at home? Which do you like better? I’ve been doing Therapy, and then I can go outside and play. I like being in the office better. I like being with you better.
Is there anything else you’d like to say about Music Therapy? I get to play the drums and the piano.
Robin concluded by sharing the following:
“It’s something he’s always wanted to do, and I’m glad that I get the opportunity. He tells everyone about it, and loves you to death. We’re doing the summer camp, and he couldn’t wait to share it with his nephew and nieces! I will be forever thankful for people who are helping him put his feelings into words that general people can understand, thus helping him not be so frustrated.”
Thank you so much, Robin and Nathan, for sharing your music therapy experiences! We love working with you both, and know the future holds many good things!