I widely attribute my connection with music to be what has helped me to be so high-functioning. This connection began with my early exposure to the piano thanks to my parents. The piano itself as an instrument, though, has helped me to advance in ways that might be surprising.
1.Piano tuned my fine motor skills- Before beginning piano my fine motor skills troubles were evident (or as evident as they could be in a three-year-old). Most notably, I could not put my socks on or take them off without hitting myself in the face. In fact, I once punched myself in the eye so hard that it almost merited a hospital trip. Playing piano, though, has helped me to overcome many of my issues such as shoe-tying (though I still struggle on occasion), writing, typing, and grasping small objects. Because piano requires extremely precise movements it essentially provided me with occupational therapy.
2.Piano helped me to learn other instruments- When I learned to play piano I learned to read treble and bass clef, a tool that made it very easy for me to learn other instruments quickly. I was already reading music, so I could focus on the fingerings and embouchure of wind instruments once I began playing them.
3.Piano made music accessible- Unlike any other instrument, to play piano does not require any special technique.Whether a professional or a 4-year-old touches a key it will produce the same sound. To play any other instrument, one must first learn to make a proper noise through embouchure or bowing or picking. Having a piano meant that I could sit down and experiment with music from a very young age. Even without lessons I was able to connect with music.
4. Piano desensitized my hypersensitivity- As a young child I dreaded loud noises. Whether the noise was a fire alarm or the popping of popcorn I would cringe and cover my ears. Upon my introduction to music I found it much easier to tolerate these sounds and even would try to turn them into music as a sort of game.
5. Piano taught me to express emotion and to understand empathy- Music is likely the most emotional process a human can undertake. It involves both the left and right sides of the brain and causes the relationship between several senses. As a person with an autism spectrum disorder I do not naturally create these relationships. There is a natural barrier for me between both sides of my brain preventing me from being able to comprehend the body language and emotions of others. By forcing these relationships through playing music I formed connections that would not otherwise have been created. My emotions were not obvious through the way I spoke until music taught me to be expressive. With music it is easy to show sadness and anger and happiness, and having forced these emotions to occur helped me to learn to utilize them in conversation. I also learned to apply my emotions to the feelings of others in order to tell what emotions they were expressing. In this manner I forged and continue to forge a sense of empathy.
Now I would like to take the opportunity to thank all my readers for supporting me during Autism Awareness Month by reading and commenting on my blog and donating to autism-related charities. This has been a very successful month for me in terms of fundraising, as I have raised over $600 to be donated to Autism New Jersey. After today I will still continue to post, though my posts will not be as frequent. I will try my best to make at least one post a week, though. Thanks again for your support!