Once upon a time, 16 ½ years ago to be precise, there was a baby girl that made her presence here in the universe. She was a wonderful, good natured baby, and her mom and dad both recognized and appreciated the gift they were given. As a toddler, she was much quieter than most of her peers. As her peers began to explore the world, their vocabulary exploding exponentially, this little girl merely grunted, or parroted (echolalia) whatever was being said to her. Words had no attachments, no meaning. She became increasingly frustrated and more remote, slowly shunned by others with curious expressions.
A very close friend suggested that she be tested, and moved mountains to make it happen. This child was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder at 3 years old and appropriately placed in Child Find immediately, with all teaching formats reinforced at home. It could only be described as a labor of love, as the time and attention it demanded was unfathomable. She exhibited a love of music immediately….it became the sole piece of the puzzle that put her in sync with the rest of the world. At first she was accepted, then she “belonged” and ultimately has pushed through , conquering and claiming what indeed was hers, with confidence and utmost joy.
Without any formal individual lessons, she graduated from middle school with national honors for her singing, and became a part of a high school choir that has won national competitions repeatedly. This choir has been invited to perform at Carnegie Hall this year, a goal they are proactively achieving by raising the funds needed to get there. That child, is my daughter, Erin Fitzpatrick….this is her solo of Silent Night:
If there is nothing else I can proffer….let it be this: the impact of music/music education on my daughter goes well beyond enhancing and enriching her life…..it SAVED her life. Although it is wonderful to have scientific support and documentation, sometimes our life’s journey brings us to a place of knowing…..it is often a matter of the rest of the world catching up. I hope you enjoy…
Jodi Fitzpatrick is a Mixed Media Artist and Mom who resides in Florida. Both she, and her artwork are ever-evolving “works in progress”.