Let’s face it, music is everywhere. Its on your computer, your IPod, in the stores, on your phone, in your car, and the list goes on. It’s the one things that unites all cultures and countries. For some, its purely entertainment whereas for others it’s more than that. It’s a way they get through their day. All anyone has to do is connect the earphones into the payer jack, select a genre or song, and press play. Voilà! The music fills your ears; and the musical magic has begun. Although sometimes, different situations may call for different genres. For example, if someone is doing a workout either on their own, or at a gym, would you rather listen to Classical music, or something like rock or rap? Most likely, you would go for the music that’s rockier and with a little more beat. Unless you’re Ben Carson and you listen to Classical music while performing brain surgery. But that is beside the point. Music has been around since the middle ages, and has progressed into what we have today on the radio. Once again, I digress, I don’t mean to write this as a rant on music or anything, heavens, I love listening to music and exploring different genres. But, I have learned that you don’t need to stay listening to one genre and keep it at that. There is another reason as to why I thoroughly enjoy listening to music: I have autism. If you would put me in a room of other people, I look like anybody else. However, if someone were to pin me into a corner, with no way of escape, it is then that my autism is shown, and known to everyone in the room. I am truly speaking from experience and if the situation hadn’t changed drastically, a fist would’ve been raised and I would’ve been the one to claim it. Growing up not knowing about autism has actually taught me to be my single line of defense. It has also kept me from having any really close friends or being able to “hang-out” because no one wanted to be around someone who would say something at awkward times, freak out over the simplest stuff, say something repeatedly etc. and honestly, I don’t blame them because neither my parents or I could explain what was going on or the reason why I was acting that way.
So how does this work? How is music connected to helping me with autism? Ironically, since I’m currently working forward a vocal music major, I depend on my music playlist to help “filter” the chaos that some people can naturally ignore. But since I sometimes have the hearing of a vampire, I can hear more going on than the normal person just because, well….I can. Temple Grandin says it best when she tries to fight for her squeeze machine in college. In the HBO movie “Temple Grandin” Claire Danes, who portrays Temple, tells her professors that the reason she built the machine was sorely because she felt a release and it helped her relax, in which she was able to get through a 24 hour time period. This of course, is Temple talking to her professors. Now you may be asking: “Natalie, you’re in college, how are you getting through your day with classes and such?” Easy. My mp3 player, cellphone and computer all has music on it. Plug in the headphones, pick a genre, and push play (and no, I’m not talking about the music group) I keep it on while in commute to and from school, doing homework, between classes and honestly, music is some of my favorite classes I’m currently taking. Therefore, my mp3 has become my own personal “squeeze machine” Even though autism for me isn’t a label but a lifestyle that I have learned to live with, I’ve also come to accept the fact that as Temple once said: “I’m different, not less.” The reason as to why I said it was ironic, because one of the things that could drive someone crazy (ie music) they probably wouldn’t want to be around all day, much less listen to. I, however, listen to my music and am currently studying it to hopefully turn it into a career. So, I hope that I was able to give you a small glimpse of what music can do for someone with autism (or anything that helps them for that matter). Just remember: autistic’s are different, not less and don’t touch my music player.