Michael was diagnosed with autism when he was 2 years old, although there had been several worrying signs before that.
He was not fond of close contact, resulting in difficulties with breastfeeding. He had little eye contact, and from 6 months of age, would shake his head repeatedly from side to side, which was the beginning of several stereotypical behaviours. At 14-18 months of age, his play was repetitive and not purposeful. He did not call us by name, nor did he point. He could however, repeat phrases and remember and sing complicated songs he’d heard us sing to him, such as, “What a wonderful world” and “Somewhere over the rainbow”. We later came to understand that his speech was not actually functional, but something called echolalia.
A friend introduced us to Daphne, in August 2015, when Michael was 10 1/2 years old. It transformed our lives completely!
We discovered Michael’s amazing talent for piano and his perfect pitch, and were astounded when he completed Suzuki Book One in 9 weeks! He had finally found something he was good at and could be proud of, which was something he had never experienced before.
Over the years Michael has faced many challenges with phobias and anxiety, many of which have been sensory related. These have been challenging at times, requiring assistance to manage. Playing the piano however, has been helpful in providing calm and distraction from his worries.
Michael has also loved the opportunity to play at Daphne’s concerts. It is always a thrill for him to perform and share his music with others, which you can see in his bright smile and demeanour. He has progressed quickly with the piano, and has an incredible memory for music. Playing the piano has helped immensely with his self-confidence at home and at school.
NOW AND THE FUTURE
Watching Michael perform with a full orchestra at the Keys of Life Concert in 2019 was one of the most memorable experiences of his musical journey, an opportunity we would never have imagined possible. It has now inspired him to learn the violin, which he is thoroughly enjoying.
Piano and music will always be in Michael and our family’s lives. It has given him confidence, calm, connection and creativity! We are grateful beyond words to Daphne, for her gift of music to our family!
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Professional Development Opportunities
Special needs training for music teachers by Daphne Proietto