I love being with Autistic People.
It is so refreshing.
They take everything I say so literally.
“How many times a week should I practice”, they ask. So I give them a precise amount.
There is nothing ‘between the lines’, with people on the Autistic Spectrum.
Everything they say, they mean. There is nothing implied.
An innocence. A purity.
If I don’t give a specific instruction, they simply don’t do it.
However, if I tell them to do something, they will do it until their body aches, simply because I haven’t said “Stop”.
Neurotypical people generally lie about their practicing. They tell me they have been playing all week, but I know they haven’t, as soon as I see them pick up the guitar. So we have to repeat last week’s lesson again, in an encouraging, uplifting way.
Aspies, on the other hand, come straight out with it! As soon as they sit down, they say “I haven’t practiced this week because…..”, then they tell me their story. Bless them! So honest, so forthright. Love them.
Being kind to Students, is like being kind to myself.
The more I love and accept myself, the more I can love and accept others.
The more gentle and tolerant I am of myself, the more gentle and tolerant I am of others.
I teach all my students to never curse their bodies (stupid fingers!), but instead to be gracious to themselves.
After all, I say, our fingers/feet/arms/hands have never done this activity before, so we can’t be expected to get it right first time. It may take many days/weeks/months, for a student to reprogram their neuro pathways, to do something new.
That is completely natural and normal for any human being.
Be sympathetic towards your body.
One of my Irlen Syndrome students, came into the lesson, pulled out their guitar, and promptly forgot everything they’d learnt over the past few months. They looked at their hands blankly, looked at the fretboard in panic, then looked at me in desperation. I think they were bracing themselves for me to be frustrated and cross with them. Instead, I look at them with love, and assure them that it’s OK to forget things.
Once we start going over last weeks lesson, it slowly comes back to them, and they are relieved.
Then sweet music happens.
Yesterday, I sang some songs from “The Greatest Showman” with one of my students who has Fragile X Syndrome. It was like singing with an old friend. Such a beautiful time, both of us playing and singing at the tops of our voices.
I do love my work.