Cocaine addicted babies

Barb said: Jul 21, 2012
Barb Ennis
Suzuki Association Member
Cello
678 posts

Does anyone here have experience (as parent or teacher) of working with a child who was addicted to cocaine at birth?

I had a 3 1/2 year old in my recent week-long introductory program who has this kind of background. He has some delays in his speech and possibly other areas and a very short attention span. He was quick to learn some things but his mother and I feel it is probably best to give him another year before starting regular cello lessons.

In the mean time, I will give her all the ideas I have (or can collect here or elsewhere) for preparing for lessons—increasing his attention span, gaining cooperation, as well as musical things. Your ideas would be appreciated!

I would also appreciate ideas for working with this child in lessons when the time comes for starting.

Thank you!

Barb
Music Teachers Helper—for individual teachers
Studio Helper—for entire music studios or schools

Merietta Oviatt said: Jul 22, 2012
Merietta Oviatt
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Suzuki in the Schools, Cello, Viola
Stevens Point, WI
104 posts

I have worked with many drug addicted children. First you must realize that each child is very different and none of them can be treated in the same manner. It will take some very special preparation and time on your part to really get to know the child and see where their strengths and weaknesses are. You should be involved with the child in some way between now and when they begin the cello lessons, perhaps a fun mommy sing with me or something like that—even if it’s just once a month. The more they trust you and know you, the better.
Be prepared, they will have a concept for weeks and then they will suddenly forget it (again, not all, but most I have worked with have this). The key is patience, much more than you are used to. There can be sudden outbursts. I was so close with one child, I was the only teacher he would listen to or deal with. There was a day when he suddenly lost it, called me every name in the book, started kicking and screaming and it took three people to get him to stop kicking and biting. This was an extreme case, he was older, and this was in a school setting. The point to this is that I thought he hated me and was so hurt because I cared for him and thought he cared for me. When he came back to school a week later he came to me as if nothing had happened. I was still his favorite teacher, he had just had an outburst. It didn’t mean anything—it just happens.

I hope this helps you. Let me know if you need any more specifics or anything at all. It really is a treasure working with these kids and having break through’s.

Dr. Merietta Oviatt
Suzuki Specialist
Viola/Violin Instructor
Aber Suzuki Center, University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point
www.uwsp.edu/suzuki
www.merietta.com
[javascript protected email address]

Barb said: Jul 22, 2012
Barb Ennis
Suzuki Association Member
Cello
678 posts

Thanks, Merietta.

“You should be involved with the child in some way between now and when they begin the cello lessons, perhaps a fun mommy sing with me or something like that—even if it’s just once a month. The more they trust you and know you, the better.”

I was thinking of something like that, too. I am very glad that the mother contacted me now, even though she didn’t think he was quite ready for lessons yet. Her birth children took Suzuki piano lessons some years ago. I was happy to hear that she is already familiar with the philosophy, and she was happy to find I also teach the Suzuki method.

Barb
Music Teachers Helper—for individual teachers
Studio Helper—for entire music studios or schools

Emily said: Dec 2, 2013
 59 posts

A friend of mine adopted a child that was crack-addicted at birth. She teaches violin and wanted to start her new daughter in it as soon as she was old enough. She started her at 4. She, too would have angry or violent outbursts and then act as if nothing happened, sometimes within the same 10 minute time span. Her attention span was almost nil. What her daughter’s violin teacher and my friend decided to do was 15 minute lessons two times per week instead of 30 minutes once per week. This seemed to help a lot. As she has gotten older, she has been able to use coping skills to go back to the 30 minute lessons. She still has some delays, but she seems to be doing much better with her violin.

Emily Christensen
Music Teacher & Writer
www.musiceducationmadness.org

Barb said: Dec 7, 2013
Barb Ennis
Suzuki Association Member
Cello
678 posts

Thanks, Emily!

Barb
Music Teachers Helper—for individual teachers
Studio Helper—for entire music studios or schools

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