Michael’s story as told by his mother, Cindy
Michael Prescott is 24 years old, loves music and dancing, and has autism. Music therapy and group music experiences have been a key part of Michael’s development for the past 14 years. After so much worry over Michael’s severe language disability, it makes my heart smile to watch my son confidently walk into a room with a huge smile and proclaim “Hi guys, I’m here!”
Michael was diagnosed with autism at 2 ½ years old and the journey we had been traveling was changed forever. Once our initial fears began to subside, we jumped into aggressive speech therapy and occupational therapy. Playdates were a thing of the past. With early intervention school and multiple weekly therapy sessions, there wasn’t time for much else in our lives. My husband and I worked opposite shifts so one of us was always available to care for Michael.
One fateful day
We moved out to Reno when Michael was 10 years old. Soon after we arrived he had a major meltdown at church one Sunday. One of our music directors approached me after church and told me about a new music therapy agency. Music therapy? That was new to me. Once I received the information, I still wasn’t sure. Another event at church changed my mind. This particular Sunday, I was singing in the praise band at the much smaller late morning service and the pastor told me he was going to bring Michael up on the stage with us. WHAT? ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!! “Trust me,” he said. He got Michael and brought him up to the band and handed him a microphone (still turned off!). Michael had a very severe language delay and only spoke a few words, so I was shocked to see him singing the words to the song.
Needless to say, I called Manal at Note-Able Music Therapy Services the next day! I told Manal what happened in church and she wasn’t surprised at all. In fact, she said this was quite common. We decided Michael would start music therapy the next week when they opened their doors as their first participant. During the first appointment, I sat outside in the car waiting for Manal to bring Michael out and say they were wrong, that this was a mistake. That didn’t happen. Starting with the first appointment, Michael’s language began to improve. He could sing the songs they were playing on the piano. Michael’s self-confidence really began to grow along with his speech. He also began learning to play the piano, read music, perform in student recitals and even in Artown.
Michael has grown to be a leader in his Exploring Music II class; knowing everyone’s name, interacting, and having friends. I volunteer in his Exploring Music II class and before each performance, I am a nervous wreck going out on stage. Not Michael, or any of our fellow classmates. They are excited and energized waiting to show off their music and dance skills. They are my heroes.
Is music therapy still a bed of roses for Michael? Yes! Michael loves music, singing, dancing, and continuing to surprise us with his growth and accomplishments. He’s graduated high school, working at his first job, and is working towards independence. He’s a loving, funny, and happy young man, who we didn’t fully know before coming to music therapy.
When I saw how quickly Michael was improving with music therapy, I knew I had to get involved. I joined the Board of Directors and began fundraising, though I had no experience. I felt the need to ensure other families were able to have their loved ones involved and experience all of the fabulous changes that music therapy had brought into our lives. I am proud to say that our little non-profit has come a long, long way these past years. It too has grown by leaps and bounds and changed other participants’ and families’ lives.
Now as an Advisory Board member, and both a parent and past Board President, I am grateful to be able to bring a unique perspective. I have experienced Michael’s journey with music from a mother’s perspective, and have been part of helping many more families. I am proud to work with this amazing organization. I love to speak with donors, volunteers, and community members to rave about our organization. It’s been life-changing for us and many families like us. Note-Able Music Therapy Services not only opened up an entire new world for Michael, but for my husband and myself as well. And that makes my heart smile.
Music is changing our participants’ lives, one note at a time.
A Note from Note-Able Music Therapy Services
All of us thank Cindy for being such a fierce supporter of Michael, as well as all of the people we serve. Our community is stronger with your engagement. Thank you for sharing your love and your story!
Want to learn more about services?
Are you or someone you love living with autism? We can help.
- Learn about our services here.
- Learn about how music therapy supports people with autism.
- Our group and adaptive music programs are a great way for people with autism and other disabilities to learn music, make friends, work on social skills, and gain confidence through performance.
You’re also welcome to contact Note-Able Music Therapy Services for more information. – (775) 324-5521 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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