The Beautiful Moment I Discovered My Son’s Outlet for His Emotions


Music is a powerful medium, isn’t it? It can lift you up in an instant or leave you teary-eyed as you ponder a memory, the sound washing over you.

We love music in our household and there is no musical genre where we fear to tread. Rock? Yes, sir. Reggae? You bet! Experimental euro thrash metal with a hint of ’80s synth? OK, admittedly that’s probably a stretch, but you never know until you know, right?

special needs son the mighty

I remember my heart swelling with pride when young Nicholas first gestured me to crank the volume on his favorite Bob Marley track.

Now, don’t get me wrong… we are still parents of a young boy. Some songs receive far more airplay than they deserve. A certain melodic ditty springs to mind involving a square-pants-wearing, underwater-dwelling loofah… but as a parent I suppose that comes with the territory.

However, not even the mighty yellow sponge has been able to knock Nic’s latest personal chart-topper from its perch. The answer might surprise you… Nikolai Rimsky Korsakov’s “Flight of the Bumblebee” is his latest obsession. While this piece of music is beautiful, it was his reaction to it that caught me off guard.

Nicholas has mastered the art of YouTube navigation. Even though he cannot spell or type fluently, he is able to find his beloved piece of music through a series of searches done from an impressive memory. We have endured a swarm of musical variations of this piece of music. I say endured, because I’m sure parents of children on the spectrum can agree… our kiddos are not afraid to hit the repeat button. Repeatedly. But I digress…

Hoping to negotiate a change of music on a particular afternoon, I marched into Nic’s room. I found him on his bed, transfixed to the screen. All pretty standard stuff, until I noticed that he was crying. Tears streamed down his cheeks. Immediately I started the panicked inquisition.

children with special needs and music

“Nicholas, what’s the matter, my boy?” “Are you OK?” “Where does it hurt?” His only response to any of my questions was a singular one; he shook his head “No” All the while he watched and listened and cried. I felt helpless; communication can still be a barrier and although Nicholas is an affectionate little guy, he is not one for huge displays of emotion. I took the device from his little hands and held him tight. He was quiet now, happy in my arms.

Our boy had just had a massive emotional response to a piece of music. It was beautiful. In our world where “hellos” and “goodbyes” can be robotic, “goodnights” often sterile and “I love you” usually parroted back to us, his expectant parents, these displays of emotion are parental gold.

Nicholas might do things in his own quirky manner; he might sometimes struggle to communicate verbally with us, but there is no denying a feeling. As different as we all are, we have that in common.

Bob Marley once quipped that the great thing about music is that when it hits you, you feel no pain. I’m happy to announce that when it hits us, we simply feel…

The Mighty is asking its readers the following: Describe the moment someone changed the way you think about disability and/or disease. If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio.

Want to end the stigma around disability? Like us on Facebook.

And sign up for what we hope will be your favorite thing to read at night.


Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.


Related to Other

How Two Schoolyard Dumpsters Symbolize My Heartbreak and Hope as a Parent

Every morning when I drop my son, Austin, off at school, I can always count on being greeted by the same two faces. Day in and day out, rain, snow, sleet or shine, they are there, waiting for our arrival. They are older and a little weathered now but still stand tall with strong backbones. Their [...]

What Nets and Acceptance Have in Common

After doing quite a bit of reflecting over the past couple of weeks, I have decided to ignite a challenge. The first bit of reflecting came from my most publicized blog post, “#42 – The Trouble With Peers.” It was reposted on The Mighty, Autism Speaks and Godvine. I stopped counting this week when I [...]

The Daily Questions, Lessons and Heartbreak of a Special Needs Mom

When I was young I knew I wanted to be a reporter. I believed in the tenet of giving voice to the voiceless and I wanted to hold leaders and institutions accountable. Now as a mother, and one to a special needs child, giving voice holds an entirely different meaning. At age 3, my curious, [...]

The One Change We Made So He Would Never Feel ‘Less Than’

Before we become parents, we already have expectations about our children’s lives. For most of us, they are unintentional, but they are there and come from, I believe, our own life experiences. I didn’t recognize this in myself until I had my first child. I didn’t consciously pre-plan his life, I just figured he’d follow [...]