Tough Decision part II

Posted: May 3, 2011 in Music Therapy

First of all, thanks for all of the encouragement I’ve gotten about my tough client, D.  Just wanted to post a quick update about today’s session.  I decided the best thing for me to do was to not push it.  During my first session, he was screaming and being self-injurious immediately.  He was agitated from the start during session number two as well, but didn’t really get mad until I started trying to get him to play instruments.  This week, I had the instruments nearby throughout, but mostly just sang to him.  Near the end of the session, I pulled out my lollipop drum and glockenspiel.  After demonstrating each, I offered them to him.  He reached out and touched the lollipop drum before pulling back, but he pushed the glockenspiel away completely.  I took those as acceptable methods of saying “no thank you,” and tried to reinforce them rather than trying to make him play.

The session was encouraging because D had no behaviors.  He stood at one point while I was in the middle of a song, and I asked him to sit, which he did.  Once the song was over, he stood again.  His staff thought he needed to go to the bathroom, which he did.  He came back and did well for the remainder of the session.  No participation, but a few smiles.  We’re making progress.  I’m still not entirely sure music therapy is right for him, but I’m encouraged enough that I think we’ll give it a go, at least for a little while.

Thanks for reading!

  1. Roia says:

    I’m glad he’s starting to calm down. If you look at it from a slightly different perspective, he did listen to you (which is certainly a form of participating), and he communicated something important (that he needed to go to the bathroom). I’ve got a lot of clients who can (how can I put this delicately…) be quite expressive in the, um, bathroomic sense (i.e., “I’m pissed”, etc.), and the fact that he let you know he needed to use the toilet and then returned is letting you know that you were able to engage him. So that’s a good thing. Keep at it, Jesse! This could end up being a very positive working alliance for him. I think the hardest thing for a lot of people who use unusual ways to communicate and who have a lot of sensory problems (as this young man seems to have) is that people give up on them very quickly, because they don’t express their interest or engagement in the process in the expected ways. Think of it this way: you’re learning a new language. His. And that’s a tremendous gift!

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