Sing to Speak - Willson's Story
By Arlyn Kantz
Like so many parents before us struggling with the diagnosis of autism, we were desperate to find a way to communicate with our son. What was Willson feeling? How could we comfort his frustrations? How did he experience the world around him? We also felt we were in a race against time to find a solution. What were reliable treatments? Who was trustworthy amongst all the self proclaimed experts? Did we need to fight the school system or take out a loan to pay for therapy? If so, which therapy? Or, like many exhausted parents, should we just accept the situation as it was and try to enjoy what little interaction Willson could offer? This is our story and how the Lord has given us direction and led us to a place of hope.
Long before Willson had a diagnosis, we knew something wasn't right with our son. Our main concern was his near total lack of speech. The professionals could offer few answers and little help. Through our local Early Childhood Intervention program we began occupational and speech therapy. On our own we began a special wheat and dairy free diet and even gave equestrian therapy a try. After Willson turned three, he spent a year and a half in a public school special education program but unfortunately, our best resource there - his teacher - had to quit due to health problems. We then began schooling Willson at home and hired a specialized therapist.
Sing to Speak was born out of Wilson's love for music and our desire to augment what he was learning in therapy. We noticed he was struggling with one word drills presented by his therapist while at the same time he loved to sing along with songs from Veggie Tales. Why not put this musical ability to use?! On a whim, we wrote a song encompassing a drill Willson was struggling with. We played that song for three hours on a car trip and when we arrived home, he was able to answer twelve basic social questions - not just repeat the question back to us. Needless to say, any drill he has struggled with since has been set to music!
Our original music was rough and recorded on a cassette recorder. Even with this clumsy beginning Willson quickly grasped what we were teaching through song. For example, he loves working on the computer. While cheerfully attending to a game, he inevitably needed to poop. Day after day, cleaning up accidents led to anger, frustration and of course a lingering stench. So we set the concern to music. In the completed CD you will hear the lyrics, Here comes the peepee, here comes the poopoo. What should he do?, what should he do? Stop what I am doing, go to the potty, then come back. Then come back!˛. Our 5 year old listened, sang, learned and incorporated the lesson. Now it warms his parent's hearts to see him run from the computer singing, Here comes peepee, here comes poopoo. What should he do... What a wonderful gift to see our son grasp a lessons that helped inspired Sing to Speak. (His three year old brother knows and loves the songs as well, and frequently asks to listen to Willson's music.)
Sing to Speak began because of the success of a single child. Now our mission is to make that same success available to all children struggling with language. Our goal is to help language impaired children improve their ability to communicate by breaking down large amounts of practical information into small bite size pieces and then setting those pieces to simple music. Unlike typical recordings, Sing to Speak includes a second version of each song with specific lyrics missing. The missing lyrics, usually the answer to a question, are an obvious omission left for your child's live response. Finally, information taught in song is then presented without music in spoken form. In this way, a bridge is slowly built from singing to speaking.
Read the following synopsis of our current and future products:
Sing to Greet the World Around Me
Our premier CD contains Sing to Speakšs trade mark personalized song. Not only are children trained to answer common social questions, they also learn how to label colors, name parts of the body, recognize community helpers and places, understand the order of getting dressed, categorize and make logical conclusions.
Sing to Greet the World Around Me Picture Book
Make your child's learning a multi sensory experience. Our son's learning was greatly accelerated when he saw pictures illustrating each of our songs and sturdy pages make this book durable for repeated looking as you listen. With each topic we use a mixture of drawings and photos to help a child generalize what he or she is hearing into everyday life.
Soon to come:
Sing to Tell You How I Feel
Sings to Speak is feverishly working to provide a tool aiding children in recognizing and understanding emotions both in themselves and in others. Borrowing heavily from Mozart, Strauss and other classical composers, this compilation not only explains the vocabulary of happy, sad, peaceful, angry, proud, and scared but musically illustrates the connection between feelings and words.
Sing to Socialize
The social world is a frightening maze to many with special needs. The Sing to Socialize project teaches the first steps to understanding social complexities. With these songs we teach what is safe and what is dangerous, how to begin a conversation and actively listen, how to tell if someone is nice or mean, what to do if you are hurt, how to answer the phone, and the basics of ordering in a restaurant.
Sing to Tell You What I'm Learning
Our forth CD takes up where our first left off. Lessons taught include question words like where, what, who, why, how and when, rooms in a house, functions of objects, seasons, holidays, and opposites. (Both the progression and concept of our songs borrow from Catherine Maurice's manual Behavioral intervention for Young Children with Autism and Dr. Sabrina Freemanšs Teach Me Language. We would like to thank both Dr.Freeman of SKF books and the publishers at ProEd for giving us not only the freedom to use these materials but encouragement in our endeavor.)