Blind and Autistic

by Pat Theisen
(Durham North Carolina, USA)

I have been teaching a legally blind and highly autistic child for about 8 years now.


He started out just pointing with his index finger and the first thing I did was relax his hands on the piano in a five finger position.

From there I showed him how to navigate along the keyboard, sometimes putting his hands over mine to feel the flow. He has perfect pitch and as soon as he learned one scale, was immediately able to transpose to all keys. By pitch he learned augmented, 7th chords and so on.

The frustration with him was if he had any difficulty, he would have an outburst of falling off of the piano bench and stiffening up on the floor.

As a teacher, I had to be careful to not introduce anything that was difficult to comprehend. Again, his world is different and he could not understand what letter comes before a certain one. Being creative, we would sit in a chair and explain before and after.

If anybody is interested, write me at pattheisen@gmail.com

Dana: Thanks, Pat. It's plain to see you are a very patient teacher. He is so lucky to have you in his life.

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