Bill Roach remembers receiving the call from his daughter that his grandson, Jacob, had been diagnosed with autism.
“She was pretty upset,” says Roach. “I told her no matter what the problem was, she still has her family and that we would all stand by her and do whatever necessary, whatever we could. I made a promise to my daughter.”
He kept his promise.
Jacob is now fourteen years old and taller than his grandfather. Twice a week Roach picks up Jacob from school and takes him to Note-Able Music Therapy Services for his weekly classes.
“Note-Ables is the high point of Jacob’s week. I know he loves coming here,” explains Roach.
Jacob agrees, “I look forward to it, always. I’m actually happy to be a person here. I get to learn new dance moves, learn how to sing…all the stuff.”
Jacob has been coming to NMTS since he was five years old. Roach found out about the non-profit while looking for community resources through Sierra Regional Center. Jacob first started with individual music therapy lessons, learning piano and singing. He then joined dance class and has recently been enjoying the electronic music class.
“I like the electronic music, it makes me feel really happy. I like the noises in there,” says Jacob.
For Roach, music has become something that he can bond with his grandson over. On their weekly drives together Jacob will turn on the electronic music station as soon as he gets in the car.
Roach jokingly admits, “Sometimes it’s a lil…I have to turn it down.”
Jacob describes autism as, “When you have trouble making friends.” However that has not deterred Jacob. He has many friends at NMTS now and has learned to, “Meet and greet people and to join in the conversation.”
“To be perfectly honest, I didn’t know what autism was,” says Roach. Roach explains, “(Many people) know it’s a disability, but they don’t know how to interact with a child who is autistic and I would say a lot of autistic children are very different.”
His advice is to talk with the caregiver and find out about the child; what he or she likes and dislikes specifically.
“And just be patient,” says Roach. “That’s the biggest thing. Patience.”
Like many 14 year-olds, Jacob’s future goals are mostly short term.
“I want to stay at the Note-Ables and keep on playing music,” says Jacob.
For his grandfather who has been there for him since the day he was born, Roach gets emotional talking about Jacob’s future. As he begins to speak his voice softens and eyes begin to tear, “I think the sky’s the limit for that kid. I’d love to see him walking across a stage at UNR someday graduating.”
Note-Able Music Therapy Services represents to Roach, “caring people” as well as a “direction” for Jacob’s life.
“There’s definitely a need for this,” says Roach.
For more resources or information on the services NMTS offers please call our office or email us.
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