Yet, here we are, the day after Daniel's third concert with Barack Obama in the White house. I don't know which one is more unbelievable to me? In obviously very different ways they both show what a determined mind and spirit can do for someone. Six years ago the professionals that worked with Daniel made the decision to pull him out of music class and instead use that as his speech therapy time. This was without my consent and believe me, once I figured that out (at the end of the school year) I complained to everyone. I wasn't happy with the decision, but I do understand where it was coming from. When he would go to music he would scream and scream, and scream and scream. We enrolled him in music therapy at our local state university. It is a program that is well renowned. People swear by it. It is amazing. I am pretty sure that we were the first people to flunk out. Don't get me wrong, they didn't ask him to leave or anything. It's just that each and every half hour session we went to (for $20) he would scream at the top of his lungs the whole time. Todd started taking him and he would watch him through the two way mirror, until the day he came home and said he couldn't do it. It was just too hard to watch. Then it was my turn. I stuck with it for a while. Then it became too much for me to watch. We finally quit. The director still remembers us. It was that traumatic for us all.
I always knew how much he loved music. Classical music soothes his soul. You could hit a key on our keyboard and pick which instrument the note would play in and he could tell you the instrument. This was when he was 3. So over the years we kept pushing him in. Pushing him in. (To music) Slowly slowly he could tolerate more and more.
In third grade his class performed the play the "Pied Piper of Hamlin". Daniel was in the chorus and he danced the Mariposa with the aforementioned Mary in my "What's the Difference" blog. He performed beautifully in the play. There were teachers lined up in the back of that room crying. Crying at his accomplishment. I would have been crying too if I hadn't been holding my breath the whole time. This was a huge step. We have it on tape. It's one of the moments you know the cosmic shift has happened.
In 4th grade he announced he would be in band next year. Everyone laughed. Really, in a meeting, everyone laughed. He was determined. I got him lessons, rented him the biggest shiniest baritone there is and he practiced, learned to read music. Well, maybe, I think he mostly plays by ear but he can read it. I knew that other kids on the spectrum, that I know to be much "higher functioning" than him didn't perform in concerts for years after they started their instruments. In 5th grade he performed in both concerts, flawlessly.
January 22 was his first concert of 6th grade. He arrived to the auditorium 45 minutes before the concert. Practiced, then sat in the audience for an HOUR holding a baritone and his music, sitting by all the other 6th graders with no adult by him. He sat there the whole time, quietly. He was attentive and waited his turn. Occasionally he would turn around and wave to his grandparents lined up in the audience. So proud of himself. Then the 6th graders filed onto the stage. He played all six songs. The grandparents sat there teary eyed, and proud. I was holding my breath like always. He looked so handsome in his required black pants and white button down shirt. Clothing he normally would never tolerate. But on this evening he was so proud of how he looked. He was part of the group. He played his heart out and came down and greeted us afterwards and thanked everyone for coming.
Writing this and remembering that it was only six years ago that he wouldn't even sit in the music room without screaming, it is an amazing transformation. For someone like Daniel it's almost as amazing and hopeful as Barack Obama becoming president. Maybe even more amazing. I wouldn't have believed either would have happened. I am so glad that they both did.