January is Music Therapy Social Media Advocacy month. Throughout the month, music therapists are sharing personal stories, tips, and advice to advocate for music therapy. Today’s client success story is brought to you by one of our music therapists, Lyndie Walker.
*Name of the client has been changed
Success stories: L’s story
For the last few summers, I have had the privilege of working at an overnight camp for kids and adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder. The kids spend a week fishing, crafting, biking, and swimming among many other things.
Most of the kids bring favorite books, movies, toys, etc. and my camper for the week, L., was no exception. She brought around ten fidgets (small toys used for sensory input) and a cd player with a case of her favorite music. One of CDs was a mix of songs that her sister had made for her. It was a WIDE variety…from Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer to Bad Romance by Lady Gaga. The CD was all of her favorite music that she was familiar with. This also meant that L. had memories attached to the music that made her feel safe: her bedroom, comfy living room couch, and family. The attachment to the CD from home was one of the great ways she was able to deal with unfamiliar challenges at camp.
Naturally, the waterfront is the most popular time of the day at camp. The kids can go tubing, swimming, or paddle boating. However, the most popular attraction at the waterfront were the pontoon rides. L., loved going for boat rides. She loved the feel of the wind in her hair and warm sun on her face.
The problem with boat rides is that you have to walk on a very unsteady dock to get to the boat. This caused a lot of anxiety for L. and ultimately, she wasn’t able to go on the boat rides. On the second day of camp, we headed back down to the docks. This time, I held both of L.’s hands and kept eye contact. As we got closer to the docks I started softly singing Rudolph. Her eyes locked on mine and she slowly continued to follow me down the dock. After repeating the Rudolph chorus one too many times, I moved on to Bad Romance, hoping the endless hours of top 100 radio I listened to wouldn’t fail me. Luckily, we made it to the pontoon before I had to hit any high notes with Gaga, and Lucy had a successful trip on the boat!
It may not seem like much at times, but the transition songs that we can provide and teach caregivers to use with clients can help them be successful in daily life. I am very grateful to be a part of client’s growth through music therapy!