Angel put on quite a performance at his first interactive concert last Saturday. The hour-long concert was held by Music for Autism at the Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx. I tried to prepare Angel by going over a social story with him but he wanted no part of it.
I’m still glad that we went because Angel loves music and he got to hear classical numbers, such as Passacaglia and the Waltz performed by Dr. Sophia Y. Lee and Dr. Yeou-Chen Ma. We also got to hear Mozart and Joplin compositions. I am not going to pretend that I know much about classical music but I enjoyed the concert and Angel did, too.
When we first arrived, Angel became mesmerized by the water fountain in the nearby hallway (see the slideshow below). Little did I know that I would spend the first 30 minutes of the concert running back and forth after him as I tried to redirect him toward the main concert area. I was blessed to have a team of Music for Autism volunteers to help me. They were very patient and kind. Bless them all! I knew that I had to keep an eye on Angel because it would only take a second for him to climb in the fountain if left unattended. (Flashback to our experience at the Children’s Museum of Manhattan)
Eventually, I was able to coax him into the auditorium and he immediately walked up to one of the musicians and said “violin.” The musician said, “This is a viola.” I was just glad that he recognized that a violin is a similar instrument and that he was able to say the word. Specifics can come later.
Angel was right at home with all of the other kids as they ran around and had a blast. At first, I was a little anxious because on a scale of 1 to10, Angel’s hyperactivity was at a 20. As tolerant as the environment was, I had to adjust my mind to the fact that it was ok for him to run around. No one was giving me “The Look.” Amazingly, no one seemed annoyed.
One parent must have sensed my anxiety because he mouthed to me, “It’s ok!” Those two words meant so much because I knew that he got it. He understood. We were on the same page. It was ok. I literally teared up when he said this. As parents of children on the autism spectrum, we often get annoyed looks from other adults because of our children’s behavior. In this case, Angel was able to be himself and it was ok. Soon, I started to tell myself:
It is ok if Angel sprints across the stage and does high jumps onto the ground. It is ok if he takes all the cups at the snack table and stacks them as high as he can to make a tower. It is ok that he can’t seem to stay away from the water fountain. It is ok if he beats on the tambourine a few times, then decides to make it spin across the floor. When all is said and done, it is ok.
Click here to find out when the next Music for Autism concert is coming to a venue near you.
Here is some background information about this awesome music program from the Music for Autism’s brochure:
“Often family members feel isolated when they can no longer attend public events and socialize with other families. Music for Autism hopes to fill a psychosocial void experienced by those affected by autism by giving them opportunities to enjoy incredible music performed by professional musicians in an accepting community and comfortable space.”
Have you been to a Music for Autism Concert or any musical event with your child?
Please share your experience. I look forward to hearing from you.
Here are some pictures that I hope captures Angel’s experience at the Music for Autism Concert.