Progress and Encouragement

Posted: November 5, 2010 in Music Therapy

Every once in a while, I need some kind of reminder of why I’m doing what I’m doing.  Today was a good day for that.

At the end of August, I started an early intervention group with the ABA clinic at work.  Initially, six children were referred.  One of those kids came to one session, then never came back to the clinic.  NO, it wasn’t my fault.  The other five have been coming at different times – one (A) comes Monday, Wednesday, and Friday; another (K) comes Monday and Friday; J comes only on Wednesdays; B1 and D come on Fridays.

All of these kids are preschool age, and have been identified as being at risk for certain diagnoses.  They’re young enough that we don’t know exactly what’s up, but old enough that we know something is up.  Thus, the early intervention.

At the start, I was pretty lost personally.  I haven’t worked with kids that young in a group setting since my internship eight years ago.  I had a schedule which ended up being way too short.  K had a tendency to get up, throw herself to the ground, and chuck stuff across the room.  A always wanted to get up and play my instruments, but wouldn’t play them while seated.  B1 was pretty impatient.  J has problems regulating the volume of his voice.  And D wanted to be anywhere that wasn’t his seat.

As time has gone on, we’ve added a few kids.  I and O are twins that come on Mondays, and constantly need to be prompted to both keep their hands to themselves and to stay in their seats.  B2 comes on MWF, and didn’t really participate at first, just kind of went off into his own world.

The last two months have seen phenomenal improvement.  K is singing along with my songs, sometimes before I even start.  Her staff even reports that she’s singing them outside of music.  A stays in his seat and plays instruments when presented (we’re working on getting him to play for longer periods of time).  I and O are needing less prompts to act appropriately.  J is needing no more than one prompt (if that) to keep his voice down during music.  B1 is waiting for his turn much better – just today, I saw him reaching for an instrument when it was not his turn, then stopping himself.

This progression has been gradual over the last two months, but today, I got two big leaps forward from a couple of the kids.  B2, who has only been coming for two weeks, is now paying attention the entire time.  And though he’s mostly nonverbal, he has been inserting words into songs (today, he said “five” when I was counting out the monkeys for Five Little Monkeys).  He’s been playing the instruments he has been given with minimal prompting.  And, during Old McDonald, he signed “pig” when it was his turn (I demonstrated and he imitated).

As for D…D has never remained in his seat for all of music.  NEVER.  In fact, he frequently goes to time out for a minute, then returns to group just to pop up again and run around the room.

Until today.  Today, he did not get up AT ALL (except for during the movement song when he was asked).  In addition, he was singing along with me on a couple of songs, which is exciting since he’s another nonverbal kid.

I won’t say everything is perfect in the groups.  K likes to sit on the instruments.  A tends to get really whiny when he’s waiting.  J is displaying impatience, asking for activities well before it is time.  I and O still jump up to strum my guitar when I’m not looking.  B1 has a junior staff complex, trying to physically assist his peers with playing their instruments.  B2 will start getting really noncompliant if there are too many prompts flying at him at once.  And D will still get bored and start vocally stimming.  However, I’m extremely encouraged by the progress everyone has shown.

Next week, we’re starting a group with some of the older kids in the ABA clinic (J is joining that group).  We’ll see how it goes.

Thanks for reading!

-Jesse

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