Growing and Healing Through Music by Chynna Laird

“Music is the great communicator.”

It’s ironic that our theme for this month is “Grow” as I’ve had a tremendous growing spurt in my spiritual and emotional self over the last couple of weeks.

I’m not sure whether it was due to the icy hand of winter not wanting to let go or all of the rocky hills my young daughter, Jaimie, has had to climb the last few months but it’s been a tough year so far for us around here.

Each day I drop off and pick Jaimie up from school a tiny part of my heart bruises as I watch how the simplest things can be so hard for her—like brushing her hair or putting her shoes on or even allowing herself to feel comfortable in a social setting—while all her classmates run around her smiling, laughing and enjoying just being kids. Jaimie is a beautiful little girl with a heart of gold. She’s intelligent, creative and loving but other people rarely notice those things. They notice more that she doesn’t smile or make eye contact; or that she sometimes refuses to speak to or sit too close to anyone; and, boy, they really notice her meltdowns. And it pains me physically to witness that.

One morning, while seeking some enlightenment on one of my SPD parent support groups, one of the long-time members—and a very close friend—shared a link to a YouTube video advising everyone who watched it to “have Kleenex handy!” All I can say is that it was a good thing I always DO have Kleenex handy.

The song was called, “The Life That’s Chosen Me.” The song was written by Karen Taylor-Good and Lisa Aschmann and performed. In the video, Karen Taylor-Good performed the song for the first time in Orlando December 9th, 2008 to the parents of those that the song was created for. Let me tell you, you don’t have to be the parent of a special needs child to be touched by this song. But those of us who are such parents will feel it’s meaning deep in our souls.

I started tearing up the moment the song flowed out from my computer speakers and the second Karen’s gorgeous earthy voice came on I needed that Kleenex. The song says what all of us parents with special needs families wish we could say to others: “I know my family isn’t perfect but it’s okay. I’m doing the best I can because this is the life that God gave me.” Then the song goes on describing what others can do to help from the parents’ perspective.

Now, perhaps, it’s because I’ve been fortunate enough to have always had music in my life—and, ironically, I’ve always been fortunate enough to use it as a way to communicate with others or to work through my own life hassles—but I got more from the song than just a good cry. For example, my mother had bipolar disorder that she refused to acknowledge or seek proper treatment for. She had many manic episodes where she took off or completely melted down. But she was truly one of the most musically gifted people I’d ever known. And if you were able to reach her on that level, you were fortunate enough to have seen a side to her many overlook
because of her disorder.

And it’s the same with Jaimie. As soon as I realized Jaimie struggled with something—before her SPD diagnosis—I used music as a way to get through to her. I couldn’t hold her, but I could sing to her. She rejected my comforting Mommy touch, but she allowed me to sit with her as she listened to music or let me crazy-dance with her as she worked through a meltdown. And that’s what that song reminded me of.

In the four minutes I listened to that song, my soul healed, my strength to move forward returned and I was reminded why I do what I do: for Jaimie, and all four of my children. You see if we want to grow, we need to be willing to look beyond the surface—beyond what only our eyes allow us to see—and be brave enough to look through other lenses. Only then can we truly understand something or someone else.

Yes, I may be old-fashioned, and maybe even a little cheesy, but music is the great communicator because it helps us to stop, listen and pay attention no matter what language we speak, the culture we’re from or if we can even communicate verbally at all. Shortly after watching the video, Jaimie came over to me, put her head in my lap (that’s how she hugs most days) and said, “I loved that song, Mama.”

That’s the power of music. Grow and heal through music!

The proceeds of the song, “The Life That’s Chosen Me,” will go to two schools that help support those that are in need of support through private funding. The song, and many other beautiful songs, are to be featured on a CD that will further support the various causes in such dire need to make a difference. Slated for April 2009 release the titled album, “The Life That’s Chosen Me,” will be available for organizations to use for fund raising need.

Please visit the site to learn more about the work that is so important to so many children.