Love of music helps young girl with autism to defy doctors

musical notesAlbany, Ind.Ten-year-old Kassidy Royal was diagnosed with autism at age two. The doctors who attended to her told her parents, Dena and Rick, that she was low-functioning and that their best option would be to keep her in a group home.

But they didn’t listen.

Her mother, Dena, said:

“It’s extremely hard; you get the autism diagnosis and we just felt like we were alone. Nobody knew what to do … the phone stopped ringing, people stopped coming around.”

“She was a happy, healthy, babbling little girl and then it was gone; something took her happiness away.”

But believing that Kassidy deserved more than what the doctors suggested, her parents chose to repudiate the limitations assigned to her.

This led the family to resort to unceasing research, behavioral training, testing, sessions with occupational and speech therapists, and most importantly for Dena, changes in Kassidy’s diet. They persevered and were determined that Kassidy can and will improve.

Soon enough, Kassidy’s parents started too see small signs that she might start to reconnect. Little by little, Kassidy showed progess. She started making eye contact, she started responding to verbal cues, and would sometimes even laugh with her brothers Jacob and Nathan. According to Dena:

“I think what made us have hope after all that time is when we would see her progress and see some results in what we were doing.”

Out of nowhere, Kassidy started speaking.

She surprised her mom when one day she started singing the ABC song while she was in the bathtub, and Dena had no idea that Kassidy had ever learned the alphabet. Dena told:

“It was like getting to know her for the first time. She was just bubbly, she had a personality where before… she didn’t.”

Soon after that, Kassidy started to develop a passion for art. She displayed an exceptional talent in creating 3-D sculptures using Play-Doh and Model Magic. Talking about her extraordinary creations, her mother told:

“They represent her personality in a way. How she sees the world, how creative she is; you look at them and you can see she sees the best in everything, she loves everything.”

But Kassidy didn’t stop there. Soon, she started teaching herself to play the piano. Dena said:

“She started playing songs one finger at a time. Now she can play entire songs she hears on the radio. She has perfect pitch.”

Nowadays, Kassidy attends the Cornerstone Center for the Arts where she takes piano lessons. Her parents attribute her dramatic improvement not only to all the interventions she has been given, but also to the sheer dedication of her teachers at the Albany Elementary School.

Dena and Rick are now hoping that soon, Kassidy will be able to lose her autism diagnosis altogether.

To some, that goal may be a little far-fetched, but the National Institution of Mental Health confirmed just recently that it is, in fact, possible— but it is uncommon.

The institution found that some school-aged children no longer met the diagnostic criteria for autism after undergoing intensive therapy. They stressed, however, that these cases are extremely rare.

Although being “undiagnosed” with autism is something Dena would love for her daughter to achieve, she says that there is something else that she wants more than that. She told:

“I want her to be accepted, I don’t want people to be narrow minded and think that everyone with autism is alike.”

Contributed by Althea Estrella Violeta

Source: Jordan Kartholl: Art, music gave voice to girl given autism diagnosis