Autistic non-verbal 6-year-old
I teach a very bright and musical 10-year-old boy in his home whose younger sister is autistic and non-verbal. She can hear and understand but does not talk. Her parents and teachers have taught her some sign language which is helping her communicate a little more.
For the first 6 months of teaching her older brother, she was not at all interested in what was going on. Then, one lesson, we finished the lesson with a jazzy duet and her dad brought her in and danced with her as we played and she just laughed and laughed with delight. Since then, she's been hanging out in the music room during our lessons more. Her parents would like me to try to teach her.
However, she is not direct-able at all. If I invite her to play, she puts on the pedal and presses low keys randomly, listening intently to the sounds and textures. I taught her brother "Kumbaya" by ear in 9 different keys--good for his theory knowledge, but also so she could hear the tune repeatedly, hoping I could interest her in picking it out by ear--but no dice.
What she did do, though, is try to sing. She sings rather like a 4-month-old baby--pleasing, musical tones, not the melody, but pretty, and she has a look on her face of listening intently to the sound she is making.
My instincts are to not try to direct her at this point, to continue to encourage her to sing, and to let her make her resonant, pedalled sound for a few minutes every lesson, and wait and see if there might be an opening for more. My theory is that, until, she can match pitch, she probably can't pick out anything by ear. I don't see her as a good candidate for note-reading any time soon. I welcome insights and suggestions.