Message For the Day: Autism and Music Rules

Kathi helping a Mom at the Early Intervention Center at St. Thomas Hospital

Kathi helping a Mom at the Early Intervention Center at St. Thomas Hospital

Rani left us well sated yet again as Kathi and I left for what promised to be another rewarding day at St. Thomas. Karen and Sheeba were off to get Stela Mary a much needed eye exam. I was especially excited about the morning because while shopping at the grocery store yesterday I found some books that I thought might work well for some of the children. When I looked through them I discovered that they were perfect! Unbeknownst to me Karen had spied the same books and purchased a couple for me as a surprise. Needless to say she was very disappointed when I spoiled her surprise. I’m sorry Karen! )-:

When we arrived at the hospital I unpacked and immediately went to the 9 year old autistic boy that I’ve been working with. I showed his mom one of the books and explained to her what they are all about.  The front several pages are pictures of objects like “Domestic Animals”, “Flowers”, “Vehicles”, “Alphabet and Numbers”, depending upon the books subject. Under the pictures are the names of the objects, say helicopter”, and the letters spelling it out. The back three pages are “write and wipe off” pages, which is the really exciting part of these books. She agreed to let me work with him and so we started.

This little boy can read words because I had watched him do Flash Cards with his mom. What I didn’t know was if much of that was memorization because there are so few cards at the Center and this is done almost on a daily basis. As I pointed to each letter on every page he buzzed through the book in short order missing only a few of the objects names. When we got to the “write and wipe off” page I handed him the whiteboard marker and started with the alphabet. He wrote every letter with no pictures or prompting! I told him how proud I was of him and actually got quite emotional as I was praising him and telling  mom what a beautiful job he had done. He was VERY excited and mom was beaming from ear to ear.

I guess I need to go back and finish our weekend. On Sunday, after leaving Pondicherry, Stephen drove to Auroville, a futuristic and lush forest community currently housing 2, 200 people plus holistic therapists and spiritually inclined intellectuals. At the center is a 30m high globe-shaped meditation chamber clad in shimmering discs of gold leaf. A bit much for India you say? It was a nice respite from the hustle and bustle of everyday Indian life, but…

Nancy with Saranya

Nancy with Saranya

We did some roadside shopping where I was promised, “paradise inside”. I’m not sure about that but we did come away with some nice bargains.

On to Mamallapuram, 7th century stone temples, rathas (shrines in the shape of temple chariots), and gorgeous bas relief sculptured rock panels. That finished off our very busy, exhausting, but fun weekend.

OK, back to Tuesday. After lunch Sheeba was our guide on a requested shopping trip for jewelry. Stephen drove as we ventured downtown, about a 35 minute drive from the guest house. We all made beautiful purchases and arrived back in the nick of time to leave for Seam.

As a new project at Seam, each child has been assigned a number from 1 to 28. We have been working with the children to sew these numbers on ribbon pieces. These ribbon pieces will then be sewn into every article of clothing for the children. This way, when the project is complete, it should be a simple but effective way of keeping clothing with its proper owner after laundering.

Tonight we were sewing with the older girls. While we were sewing the girls started singing in Tamil. It was wonderfully relaxing just to sit, sew, and listen.


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