Welcome to The Kingdom of Should
I’ve been waiting a long time for this moment. We’ve been working on this project for four years and it’s finally becoming a reality. I was originally invited to be part of The Kingdom of Should by my friend Joe Romano, a Developmental Music Therapist; he works almost exclusively with children on the autism spectrum. Joe is a truly unique individual, a rock-n-roll musician in the ’80s, he turned to teaching music privately and in schools in the ’90s. Then he decided to focus on working with children with special needs. I’m not aware of anyone else who provides the kind of therapy Joe does. Developmental music therapy is unique due to its integration of movement and the visual process using the connection he is able to make with children using the universal language of music. Most children with autism spectrum challenges are drawn to music and this gives Joe a way to engage with them. Joe is also committed to the importance of behavioral optometry, vision therapy and the power of lenses to affect positive change for children with autism spectrum challenges. He and Joan Raina, a long-time school teacher of young children and originator of The Kingdom of Should, insisted on having my input because they wanted behavioral optometry as part of the story.
The Kingdom of Should is wonderful on several levels. First, it is an entertaining and engaging story, filled with songs and music that every child can enjoy. Our main hope however, is that The Kingdom of Should will be captivating and inspirational to children on the autism spectrum and their families. It has already been so for all those who have experienced it. We very much wanted to honor children who are the least likely of heroes. Little material for children with special needs to relate to exists and from what we have seen, there is nothing quite like The Kingdom of Should. We wanted to impart the message that one’s so-called limitations are often gifts in disguise. We also felt it important to draw attention to the issue of bullying, another underlying theme in our story. And we feel that you can never call out bullying for what it is too often. All these concepts are at the heart of The Kingdom of Should. These are the primary issues that drove the creation of this project.
The Kingdom of Should is woven with music designed to positively affect attention and behavior. It is our hope that parents will listen with their children, as it is not only a beautifully crafted tale but also contains some very useful information for parents. The story is informative for parents new to the world of Autism Spectrum Disorders as well as those with more experience. Those just beginning to look for interventions for their children will find several important issues addressed. Many otherwise experienced parents will likely be learning about Behavioral Optometry and Developmental Music Therapy for the first time. While the story may be longer than some children on the autism spectrum will attend to in a single sitting, even shorter exposures will be enjoyable. In fact, every child (and adult for that matter) who has had the opportunity to experience The Kingdom of Should has listened to it in its entirety – and often asked to hear it again.
The story’s young heroes are children on the autism spectrum: Frankie displays significant autistic behaviors, Lester struggles with Asperger syndrome and a crossed eye and Didi has Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD). The adult heroes are based on providers of Vision Therapy/Developmental Lenses and Developmental Music Therapy.
The musical score was created and performed by Joe Romano based on his clinical experience with children on the spectrum. Through his work as a developmental music therapist, Joe realized that before he could start many of his sessions, he had to help children and/or adults slow down their heart rate and brain activity so they could focus and concentrate in order to learn and develop. This idea grew into much more. Joe began to use certain notes and rhythms not only to prepare people for therapy, but as an integral part of the therapy itself.
The notes, sounds and rhythms throughout The Kingdom of Should were derived directly from Joe’s work with children on the autism spectrum. Many products on the market claim to be based on research, which is all well and good, but the music Joe has created is based on his actual work with real people. He observed the way various children responded to the music he created for them. Joe continues to fine tune the music he creates as he uses it with more and more children on the autism spectrum. Joe Romano is the only person we know who is currently practicing developmental music therapy as we have described it here, which greatly differs from standard music therapy.
As is the case for most children on the autism spectrum in the real world, all three of the main children characters have visual and developmental challenges. The Kingdom of Should provides information for parents about the field of Behavioral Optometry, which has a long history of success in improving the lives of children on the autism spectrum yet remains unknown to the majority of parents seeking help for their children on the spectrum. Behavioral optometrists use vision therapy and therapeutic lenses, which appear in the story. Skilled behavioral optometrists can be found in practices the world over. Every child with developmental delays, learning differences or any type of autism spectrum behaviors should be evaluated by a behavioral optometrist to assess visual development issues.
Joe also created an incredible music CD, Dreaming in The Land of Can. This CD was designed to help children on the spectrum sleep more easily. It has been tested on a number of children and has shown to work with helping them fall and stay asleep. This is important since many children on the spectrum have trouble sleeping. Dreaming in The Land of Can is also a beautiful piece of music anyone can enjoy and is also being used by some Yoga teachers during classes because of its soothing qualities.
Please visit the interactive website: KingdomofShould.com to learn more about this exciting project and let your children visit the “Kids” section to enjoy the activities created especially for them.
Next time: My friend Joe Romano