I retired from my job in 2021.
Yeah, I know. I never would have thought I'd be capable of it either, but here I am. Alive. Retired! And, astonishingly, kind of digging it. So...what the heck am I doing with myself?
I just finished a draft of an article for a special edition of Voices (with huge thanks to my friend, Dr. Henny Kupferstein, who kindly helped me re-organize and finish the thing already, before it ended up becoming a 387 page book). The title is Getting to 'no' you: When nonspeaking autistic people refuse music therapy. Here's the Abstract, in case you're curious:
Nonspeaking autistic people frequently begin music therapy at the request of others. Typically, family or care systems are tasked with making decisions on their behalf and have decided this service will be of benefit. Consequently, music therapy is a given rather than a choice. For this paper I have used my own evolving understanding to explore the complexities and power dynamics related to nonspeaking people being able to say ‘no’ to music therapy. Elements in this discussion include: (a) the ability, and safety, to say 'no' in the context of a culture of compliance (b) the complicated relationship between music therapists and the systems within which they work, and how this affects the therapy relationship, and (c) the role of music therapy practice standards. I advocate the following: (1) presume competence; (2) enter the therapy space with curiosity and openness, (3) be willing to ‘get to know’, (4) coping skills or communication attempts are not ‘behavior’ in need of correction, and (5) learn how each nonspeaking person communicates ‘no.’ Actively encouraging and respecting treatment refusal goes a long way toward building a respectful music therapy practice/relationship.
It was, as most things I seem to do are, a complicated topic. Not so much complicated because nonspeaking people should be listened to (that's a given), but more because I wanted to address (in as respectful and calm a way as possible) how many elements stand in the way of nonspeaking autistic people being heard at all, let alone experiencing self-determination. It, um, required a lot of editing before I could submit it.
I finally finished reading Music heard so deeply: A music therapy memoir, by my colleague, Betsey King, which I quite enjoyed (especially the stories of her work). In fact, as I've discovered, one of the nicest things about being retired is having time to read!
I've been exploring collage, because...why not? This one was inspired by one of the folx I worked with for a long time. He is a brilliant, curious man, who, besides being a news junkie, wanted to learn about space.
As you might imagine, I miss the people who I spent so many years with as a music therapist. I suspect you'll be hearing about what it was like to spend my last year or so working, and retiring, during a pandemic.
So....you know...welcome back!