CAS: Music Therapy with Down Syndrome Association (Day 1)

Today was the first session for my service to finally initiate our class sessions with the people at the DSA (Down Syndrome Association). After many in-class sessions of planning, we had a plan to introduce and acquaintance ourselves to the people and to get to know them as well! After that, we’d start the fun bit: singing.

Deciding what song they’d like, mostly Disney songs.

 

Now, I’m not a singer. Nor have I ever dealt with people of special needs, as ignorant as it may seem, I was never given the opportunity to. So of course I was excited! But also nervous, one of my biggest fears was that I wouldn’t know how to deal with them or that I’d come off as rude. I decided to put that all aside and focus on my main goal: to befriend one person and come out having a better understanding of people with down syndrome. 

As we entered the centre, we were warmly greeted by one of the students of the association! His name was Allen. He was a student at the DSA since he was “very little” and seemed to know everyone around. Despite some misunderstandings, I felt like Allen was genuinely happy to see us, which is really nice! Before getting into a circle, I managed to catch some small talk with some of the other students. I noticed some of them were much more talkative than others which actually surprised me in a good way. If anything, they talked more than me!

Another interaction that made me think was when I saw two students doing a type of handshake, y’know, the kind of handshake that are special only to specific friends. Kinda like a secret handshake. Seeing them have such an interaction made me think that just because they have a disability, that doesn’t stop them from being just like us. I feel like people stereotype other people with a mental disability as someone who doesn’t ‘understand’ the norm. Only to a certain extent is that true, but it’s important to remember they are just as capable as us in doing anything. 

My partner that day was Micheal. Even though I managed to fulfil my goal of being able to come out with an insight of people with down syndrome, I didn’t interact with Micheal as much as I wanted to. I felt as if I was too quiet and didn’t quite initiate enough, and that left me fairly disappointed.

I got out of the centre feeling somewhat surprised, pleased, but also let down. I was pleasantly surprised that the people at the DSA were very accommodating towards us and really treated us as friends! I also managed to get an experience of working with people with down syndrome (I’ve always wanted to work with people with special needs!) But I was also let down because I did not manage to really get to know any of the students. I told myself the next time I come back, I would get to know Micheal –or any of the students- more. Talk to them, ask them about their day, or anything really. But I was definitely happy with our first visit to the DSA.

 

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