So…I was reminded this week of why I like to teach in all sorts of ways: private lessons, groups, neural typical folks, those with developmental disabilities, low-income, drum set, Brazilian, drum corps style…the whole thing.
I was teaching a drum class this morning at FHAR in San Mateo for a group of developmentally disabled folks, and I had one of my favorite guys in there who gave us this great experience a few weeks back.
This guy is not verbal–at least I had never heard him talk before. Sweet guy, but I had taken it for granted that he just didn’t talk. Then one class, his staff asked him to do some counting that the rest of the class was doing…and I saw his mouth move. Didn’t hear anything, but the mouth was moving. Whoa. Wow…OK then!
In subsequent classes, he’s talking pretty regularly with all of our verbal exercises for the drum class. So much so, that I now recognize his voice (he kinda sounds like Michael Jackson; high and soft).
Now, I take zero credit for this–I wasn’t even trying to get him to talk at first. But, dang! It sure feels like God has walked into the room every time I hear his voice. And it’s not just me–it amazes and delights everyone in the room every time we hear his voice.
This is part of the beauty of working with folks with developmental disabilities. Just like folks that are blind can have highly developed hearing to compensate for their sight disability, folks with developmental disabilities have this highly developed sense about them that all of us neural-typical types could learn from. I call it the ‘unalloyed joy’ effect (for lack of a better term).
What I mean by unalloyed joy is that these folks are, at times, so pure in showing their feelings and emotions that it can take your breath away. When I see them like this, it reminds me that I’m alive, that we are both in the ‘now’ together, that we are all ‘pure consciousness’ as the Zen folks would say. Wonderful.
I hope I never get over this feeling. Just amazing…THIS is why I love working with these folks.