As you know, my son is obsessed with playing the guitar, both acoustic and electric (bass, as it only has four strings, unlike the acoustic which has six strings – see Wy, I *do* listen when you
lecture talk to me).
The joy of having an autistic child is that they excel in certain areas, and for each child this is different. For my son, it is music. He has always been able to just be in time, be on key, he just knows how things should sound. Last year he did viola, which he loved, but this year he decided he wanted to learn guitar. Guitar is very much a group instrument, it sounds infinitely better when played with a group, and for someone who really struggles to interact with peers of his own biological age (13), this is a way he can be part of a group, yet still be on the fringe so to speak.
He takes lessons through the NT Music School, and his teacher Caleb, who would be maybe thirty (Disclaimer: I am not a reliable source for guessing ages), is just the nicest human being you could meet. We had the pleasure of getting to know Caleb several years ago when he was a student teacher, so it was a joy for my son to already have that connection when he started his guitar lessons. Nothing is too much trouble for Caleb, he happily gives out extra music sheets, or lends out special music books if my son is interested. They have bonded over a shared love of ACDC and I have watched my son grow in confidence as he plays, which is simply priceless. Our only worry now is that we will lose Caleb to a bigger school in a bigger city with a bigger budget, but for now we are relishing the music.
My son’s biological father played guitar in a band, and had the ability to hear a song and then be able to play it note for note. He died before my son was born, and it has always been just the two of us. As awesome as I am, I know there are times that my son wishes he had a male role model, or at least another guy he can talk music with, and he found this with Caleb. I firmly believe that everything happens when it is meant to, and that if God means for me to meet someone, He will put him in my orbit.
My son is also taught by Nikki, who is, quite frankly, one of the kindest people I have ever met. We have worked together previously, and without hesitation, she supported me when my brother passed away suddenly. I don’t think she has a malicious bone in her body. She takes the time to talk to all ‘her’ kids as if they are capable human beings, instead of rowdy kids, and in return they all adore Mrs Q, as they call her. I will never forget the day we were driving home and I asked my son if he had seen Nikki that day. He turned to me, and in a tone full of reproach, simply said “Her name is Mrs Q”. She is blessed with the ability to make everyone feel welcome, and to make everyone feel capable of embracing their unique talent, and I feel so lucky that I get to know her.
This week was their final lesson for the year, and it culminated in a day long excursion where all the students went to the local government schools, six in total, and played a Christmas concert. We live across the road from one of the schools, so went over to watch them. They are so good, and that is not just a proud mum talking! Considering it is a million degrees in Alice Springs this week, and they had to set up, pack up, carry all the equipment, and then perform, they were amazing!
This Friday they get to do it all again, this time at the local Christmas markets in the centre of town. We are going to make a night of it, and after the performance are going to take Wy out to dinner and then on a drive to look at Christmas lights. It will be a nice way to end the year, now all I need to do is find some sheet music online for him to work on during the school holidays.