We don’t make a huge fuss about our Willow having a diagnosis of ASD, we don’t really buy into labels, or putting people/children into boxes? I’m not sure of it as a thing, well it is a thing, but I suppose our lad functions in a way that we can ignore and disregard the label. Willow is Willow, a monster mostly, but he is the way he is, because he is the way he is, not because of autism or being autistic or having autism spectrum disorder. First most he is Willow, he has yellow curly hair, thick black glasses, is full of fun, smiles a lot, and has an excitement about him which is physically contagious. He 100% always lives in our world with us.
Anyhow his bigger sister has attended loads of clubs over the years, ballet, crafts, choir, gym, newspaper, the list is endless. These have mostly ran after school. It’s a long day for Willow at school and so far we haven’t signed him up for any after school clubs. I was looking out for a weekend one for him though, I was tipped off to Saturday Sounds from another mum at School.
In the past I’ve avoided clubs that are aimed and targeted for kids with SEN. This I think was a part of my own acceptance and learning curve post-diagnosis. Will has been going weekly for ages, months and months. Organisers, Billy and Andy are both talented musicians, I think they can pretty much play any instrument. They strip it back for Saturday Sounds, they in gentle approach let the kids lead the group. Billy and Andy, I can only guess have real insight and training into kids with communication issues. Lots of people ignore Willow, or ask him questions through me, that winds me right up (I can jump into tigress looking out for her cub mode in 0-3 seconds). Or worse still they ask him a question, ‘What School do you go to?', and then give him 2 seconds to answer, if they don’t get an answer, they fire more questions at him ‘Do you like School? What’s the name of your teacher? How old are you?’. Willow is just answering the very first question, when the person has moved on, or they look to me for his responses! Billy and Andy know how to communicate with children. Each child that comes has a different communication level. Billy and Andy get it, they are not uncomfortable about a little silence in delayed response, they are not awkward when a response might not even come about. Respect. They respect the children in the group, they give them time and space to express themselves. Lots of adults in Willow’s life, (kind well-meaning people mostly), they don’t often convey this respect and willingness to listen to him.
We love Billy and Andy, it’s clear how much Willow himself gets out of the group. Billy and Andy offer an outlet for kids via music; singing and playing instruments. Some of the instruments are ingenious, they wired carrots up to the iPad the other day…. no idea… but it produced a daft sound that they could sing along too.
Saturday Sounds, five stars from me, one million from Willow.