How my Nursing Degree Helps to Teach a Boy with Autism

by Pattheisen
(Durham, North Carolina)

I have been teaching a young boy who is autistic and blind for a few years now. He comes every week assisted with a woman from the autistic society versed in autism to assist in instruction, such as how to sit up straight and how to focus.

There are many different approaches that are divinely inspired to teach him. For example, the concept of what letter comes before or after another letter is difficult for him. We start out and each sit in a chair next to the other. Then a one=inch colored letter is placed in my child's hand and then he is able to figure out who the neighbors are--that is what I call each of the letters.

To get him learning dynamics, which is hard for him, I have a tiny teddy bear sleep on the piano and tell him that we must not wake him. I could go on and on, but suffice it to say he now is doing classical music on a intermediate level.

He has perfect pitch and every lesson we do ear training. Sometimes he puts his hands on mine to learn rhythms and some of the time he keeps his hands in place while I play the song. He also gets free time after each segment of the lesson to explore, and this is the part that is so impressive to me as he finds new songs on his own. His chord structure is enhanced at this point with additional information, which is taught to him by ear. For more information, feel free to e-mail me at


Pat, Your ideas seem very creative to me! I love placing the sleeping teddy bear on the piano, and having him learn rhythms by putting his hands on yours. You must be full of good ideas... I would love to hear more! Would you mind writing back again?

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