This month I am joining a few blogger friends and writing about "Autism Devotion." I had trouble deciding what to write about. Why? Because Derek is passionate about so many different things.
Derek loves to sing. He always has. He started singing before he could speak. When words failed him, he could still express joy by opening his mouth and letting happy sounds come out. He didn't need words. He could just sing.
On August 27, 2011 I caught him on video singing in the shower. I didn't recognize a single word that came out of his mouth. But the sound of HAPPINESS in his voice is unmistakable. If you watch the video, you will see that singing is singing in ANY language, and it is more than beautiful...
Derek Singing in the Shower
Over the past few years, Derek's love of music has grown. I believe that teaching Derek songs is the main reason he has learned to speak. He picks up tunes and memorizes songs easily--even songs on the radio. He loves Rihanna's song "Diamonds" and if you sing "Shine bright like a diamond" he'll repeat the lyric and add "in the sky" at the end. He also likes the song "Diamond Eyes" by Shinedown (do you sense a theme?) If he hears one of them on the radio he says "One more time" when the song ends and flaps his hands. He also turns paint cans and pots into drum sets. He pretends that wooden puzzle pieces of guitars are REAL and strums them while he sings. He even attempts to play a toy harmonica.
Music speaks to Derek in ways that nothing else has. At night, I sing to Derek to calm him down before he falls asleep. Just a few weeks ago, when I started singing "Twinkle Twinkle," all of a sudden I heard Derek's little voice join in. In the past, if I paused while singing, Derek might fill in a missing word here or there. But never before had he sang WITH me, word for word, during an entire song. It was so amazing that I didn't want the moment to end. Fighting tears, I continued on and we sang "Jingle Bells" together, before he said "Done singing" and rolled over to go to sleep.
Then right before Christmas, Derek started watching Muppet videos on Youtube. There is one of the Muppet chickens singing "Joy to the World." Derek loved it. There is also one of Beaker singing "Ode to Joy." Well, technically Beaker sings "Meee meee mee" over and over again to the tune of Ode to Joy. So that's what Derek does. But how many 5 year olds know a song by Beethoven? And when Derek sings, his voice, and his song really, truly are an ode to joy...
Beaker singing "Ode to Joy"