Nick loves music. Seeing him play in marching band is more than a goal achieved. He is happy. That may sound like a simple statement, but it signifies a culmination of Nick’s intense therapies to live and achieve with the disability of autism.
As a toddler, he'd climb onto the piano bench and bang on the piano keys. He started piano lessons at about the age of 8. He did not necessarily pick up the concepts easily, but he practiced incessantly.
|Nick about age 2|
In fifth grade Nick decided to join band in school. He chose to play the bells. The classmates in his band class were extremely supportive and helped Nick learn the music. The elementary school band teacher had ADD, so this teacher could relate to Nick--keeping instruction clear and concise. Nick thrived.
In seventh grade his band teacher introduced Nick to other percussion instruments. It was a slow process to get him comfortable, but he persevered. Again, his classmates helped Nick, if needed.
Nick continued band in high school. His sophomore year, he joined the rhythm theatre band in addition to the regular band class. The rhythm theatre band practices were after school, so this really illustrated how much Nick liked music--he was there because he wanted to be, not just to fill a class period.
In his junior year Nick added the marching band to his class schedule. This class started an hour before the regular school day. Nick, who was never a morning person, awoke at 5 am daily.
Few of his classmates from elementary have continued to take band, but they have been the nucleus for meeting new friends via band. I understand the marching band members become really good friends because they spend so much time practicing together. However, I have never seen such acceptance and camaraderie that includes a student with autism. This bond goes beyond the school walls. We rarely can go to a store without Nick knowing someone. Either he or the other person will stop, high-five, and chat.
Now, Nick is a senior, and he continues to play in these bands. He wishes to pursue more piano lessons and wants to play in a band after high school. Nick sums it up, "Music is my life."
top photo credit:Shaylen Sparrow