Songs for Autistic Children

It’s good to be cake.

After a long day of classes, I went home yesterday and began reading some of my favorite blogs. I was moved when I came across this post at the Autism Games blog about a bit of a tough day a Speech Pathologist had with a young autistic boy.

When it was time for Ethan to go home, he was still visibly upset, though no longer crying. I started singing a goodbye song from Super Simple Songs Three (#19). I held his hand and sang as we walked down the hallway. Ethan loves music. For one of the few times that session, he looked right at me and said with sheer relief, You’re cake. His mom said that that was a good thing, but she didn’t need to tell me that. Little Ethan was telling me, You found something that made me feel better.

We’ve been so thrilled to get positive feedback about Super Simple Songs from parents and teachers of children with Autism. We created the songs on Super Simple Songs 1 for our young English students in Japan. We soon learned that parents of native-English speaking toddlers also enjoyed the CDs. That was a bonus.

Then we started to hear from teachers and parents that the simplicity of the lyrics, the pace of the music, and the ease with which the songs could be taught through gesture made them very attractive to autistic children. That was amazing to us. We’ve kept that in mind on our following CDs, and I really believe that our focus on keeping things super simple has made the songs better for ESL/EFL students, students with special needs, and very young native English speakers. Although each of those groups have unique characteristics, they are all emerging speakers who struggle to communicate. They can all take comfort in music when it is simple enough for them to follow along with. They all rely very much on physical cues to compensate for linguistic challenges.

So, we’ll continue to keep things super simple for young learners, and when we do a song that is a little more challenging, we’ll continue to include a slowed-down “Learn It” version of the song.

And I’ve added a new complement to my lexicon. If I ever tell you, “You’re cake,” it’s a good thing. It’s a very good thing.

— Devon