As I entered my freshman year I realized that I had no friends. I started band camp that year desperately wanting to make some new acquaintances. I was hoping high school would be a little different than middle school and that maybe it would be easier to develop these friendships that I had longed for. But I would find out that wasn't the case. By the time Christmas came my freshman year I had been rejected over and over again and just wanted to leave high school. I never really talked to anyone much about the way I was feeling. I held it in because I didn't think other people would understand and I was afraid they would think I was weird.
I found a friend in my trombone. When I signed up for band in the sixth grade I had no idea that I would end up being in band for so long or using it as a possible major in college and becoming a professional. This is something that happened due to my special interest and the make believe world developing in my mind.
While other kids were out hanging out on Friday and Saturday nights, I was at home practicing a solo or playing a lick from a piece of music. I wanted to be good at the trombone and I always was motivated to be the best. I wanted to be section leader and I practiced a lot to ensure that was always the case. I think I wanted to be good at band so desperately because I hadn't felt a lot of accomplishment in other areas of my life. This ability to play music and be the best at it gave me a sense of accomplishment and it was a distraction from the reality of the real world where social rejection was a constant. It was a coping mechanism that took away some of the pain.
So if you see your child developing an interest at a young age that might seem a little strange or intense I encourage you not to fret over it or worry. This may be something that is very useful to them. The special interest was and has always been my best friend. Because the special interest doesn't worry so much about social norms or tendencies that society typically frets over. When I am playing trombone nothing else matters. It's me, my trombone, and the piece of music. I am able to become a part of the trombone and a part of the music. When playing trombone I am in the zone and there's no one else around. I'm focused on the music in front of me and making it blend and balance with others when in an ensemble setting.
In middle school we had practice logs. We were supposed to keep track of how many hours that we practiced at home each week. When I turned in my practice log I had always wanted to be sure that I had logged the most areas. This continued into middle school except for we no longer had practice logs. We were just responsible for learning the music and becoming good at it.
Music quickly took over my life in high school. I was in the marching band during the fall of 2000 and really benefited from having that outlet. I was always able to go to a rehearsal after school instead of going home to be depressed or bored because I didn't have a lot of friends.
I then joined jazz band, concert band, show choir backup band and pep band. There are lots of opportunities and outlets for teens to get involved with in high school and I always encourage our kids on the spectrum to get involved. The more involved the better off we will be.
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About the Author
Travis is 28 years old. He was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome at the age of 22. Travis hopes to shed light on autism and help others understand what life with the syndrome is all about. Most of all he hopes that others understand that people with Autism are human beings worth being loved just like all other people in the world. You can visit Travis' website at http://travisbreeding.weebly.com to learn more about him.