Each morning, my daughter and I have the same routine. At 6 a.m., she skips into the kitchen, turns on the light and throws something at me while I am sleeping (albeit trying to) on the couch. I then groan, “Soo-aaah,” hop up, squinting at the bright light, looking like something straight out The Walking Dead, stumble towards the fridge, and proceed to set out her breakfast—juice, fruit and if I’m in a semi-conscious state—some crackers. I then stumble back towards the couch, plop down, smothering my face with a pillow. You think it ends there? Oh no, my 12-year-old alarm clock then proceeds to belt out every song in her repertoire at the top of her lungs—from George Michael, Bruno Mars, AC/DC, Jimmy Swaggart (thank my mum for that)—to her latest favorite, “Native New Yorker,” by the ‘70s disco band, Odyssey (thank you Rosanna Scotto!). Sometimes, I’m in awe of her vocal range, so I’ve come to term her sonorous outbursts, “An Operatic Soliloquy.”
Now, let’s break this down. “Operatic,” for the reasons which I aforementioned, and “Soliloquy,” because my daughter seems to be having a concert or even dialogue with herself, though in the presence of others. Note that she’s not singing the actual words of the songs, but for lack of a better term, “scatting.” She’s improvising sounds, saying/singing random words and phrases of ‘nonsensical' words. To the casual listener, it may sound nonsensical, because you may have to listen a while to get the gist of the tune she’s well, scatting. “Skap, dap, dee, doo, do, bop, boop, swee, wee, wap, wop, skee, bap…” I would gaze intently at her, wondering if this is what she was actually hearing, almost like listening to music under water. Maybe she hears the tune, but the actual words are garbled. However, I noted that after a recent procedure when she got her ears cleaned and ear tubes inserted, her scatting became more pronounced and louder! Her speech therapist speculated that perhaps she’s hearing a bit better, and folks drum roll please…she’ll begin to talk!
My daughter is a bit of an anomaly. She knows that we are listening, but she’s more concerned with entertaining herself. Oh how I wish, I could do the same. Many times while ambling down the street, I’m performing an internal soliloquy. Now if I spoke out loud or belted out singing, folks would think I’m a few beers short of a six-pack, which might be true of us all—just sayin’.
I’ve been researching quite a bit about nonverbal autism and was astounded to find out there’s so little research being done. Not talking away from other individuals with their respective challenges on the autism spectrum, but not everyone as exemplified in popular culture is “The Good Doctor” or “Rain Man.” In my surfs on the internet, I came across the nonprofit organization, Milestones. Regarding interacting with individuals with nonverbal autism, it stated: “Being nonverbal does not mean higher impacted. Don’t presume a person’s intellectual capacity based on their being low-verbal or nonverbal.” Also, for those of you with loved ones over the age of 18, and looking to assist them in securing gainful employment, Milestones offers a bastion of support in the process. Visit milestones.org for more info.
Stay tuned, as I will be providing more resources for caregivers looking for assistance in the transition to vocational opportunities for adults on the autism spectrum. As for my 12-year-old alarm clock, I look forward to seeing where her operatic soliloquies take her—who knows, maybe Carnegie Hall!
By Kami-Leigh AgardBLOG COMMENTS POWERED BY DISQUS