Katherine Thomson Piano Studio
It’s free with no obligation to hire
Introduction: I love the challenge and variety of working with autistic children. I began teaching them at a time when my career was becoming boring for me - something I thought would never happen. Working with autistic children has given me a greater understanding of how the human brain works and learns. The skills I have gained have improved my teaching abilities with all of my other students as well - reinvigorating my enthusiasm for teaching all children.
- How did you get started doing this type of work?Autistic students found me! For over 10 years I had been trying to talk various parents of autistic children into letting me work with their children who showed an interest in the piano. All of the parents were convinced that their child was unteachable. Then, years later, I was overjoyed when I received my first phone call from the parent of an autistic child wanting piano lessons! I quickly gained several more autistic students and have been having great success with these children ever since.
- Describe a recent project you are fond of. How long did it take?One of my autistic students has been a monthly volunteer pianist at two different venues for the past two years. His book reading and language skills are poor, but he recently completed an AP music theory course in High School and was one of the few students who passed the college credit test at the end of the class. He also has won a piano competition two years in a row! At the other end of the spectrum, another student who first arrived with no language, no reading abilities, and no concept of what a hand or fingers were, is now sightreading beginner songs and can play scales with ease. He is aging out of the school system, and the schools have not had any success trying to give him basic communication skills, but he is learning to read notes and he has learned a few words during his piano lessons. I still see tiny bursts of light in his cognitive abilities as we progress, and he still tries to talk to me during his lessons. I know the thoughts are there and he wants to speak, but he can only make sounds most of the time. His attempts to speak increase every month, so who knows?
- What advice would you give a customer looking to hire a provider in your area of work?Experience working with autistic children is VERY important. Every autistic child has a different combination of issues and challenges. I have worked with over 50 autistic children and each one has been completely unique in their skills and abilities. Some have spoken for the first time during their lessons. Others have slowly improved severe memory issues. Others have savant capabilities and are working toward professional careers. All of them can read music and have improved their fine motor skills, along with concentration and attention span. I am very creative in finding the best solutions for each child.