A common stereotype of my tribe is that many of us are music wizards and can somehow magically pick up a musical instrument and play. I can attest from learning piano for many years that it is definitely not the case. This is an area where my mind and body are often on completely opposite poles. I have a lot of music in me, thanks to years of listening to music from all around the world. Yet the motor challenges have deter me from making significant progress.

Presuming competence and coaching for motor skills should be the guiding principle of any music teaching involving our tribe. I started learning piano from a genuinely lovely teacher that simply didn’t understand me or how I learnt. Every session ended up being a struggle and I had to give my everything to just keep my body together – and was not always successful. I lost motivation to learn.

It took a lot of perseverance from my parents and finding the perfect teacher in the last couple of years for me to rekindle my interest in learning and make meaningful progress. Music is not a birthright for all of us nor are we music geniuses. But it is something the really passionate can learn with sincere, sustained and directed effort.      

Swarit Gopalan

About the Author

I am an 11-yr old autistic, nonspeaker that uses letterboard to spell/keyboard to type to communicate.I live with my family in Florida and go to Invictus Academy for school. 
I find a lot of solace in expressing myself through poetry. Music and nature also help me stay in the present, there is nothing better for me than to have my movement create a symphony with nature and to truly enjoy the sights and sounds. Living in harmony with nature is my life’s mission.
Right from the time of diagnosis, we are only told about all things we cannot or will not be able to do. Along with the check that is written to the doctor for the diagnosis, it often feels like our agency is written off too, especially without a reliable communication mechanism.  
Time to change the paradigm with more non speaker voices. It has always been a dream to share my thoughts and perspectives with the world so that I can be one of the catalysts to creating a better understanding of non speakers in general. 
My hope is that my words will help change the world from sympathy and pity for those like me to one of deeper understanding of our lives and allyship to ensure our rights.

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