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February 13, 2009


Christine Meller

That is interesting, I have a grandson recently diagnosed with high functioning Aspergers who likes nothing more than to stand in the pulpit of our chapel and sing his own little opera, I have taken to writing down the words and they are extraordinary for his age of 9 years, speaking of deep emotions regarding his country and peoples lives, is this normal, I am wondering about him learning music.

Susanne Waldeck

This is fascinating. My son is 7 and has Aspergers. Is loves opera more than any other music. So does my husband who I believe also has undiagnosed Aspergers. My son stands on our balcony trying to sing opera and loves the sound of his own voice. There are few types of music more "grating" to me than opera. He heard Phantom of the Opera once on the radio and become engrossed. It's an interesting point you make about tones. He can't bear his sister's voice singing but can bear my voice and also my husband's - both of which are deeper. We are living in TAiwan at the moment and my children have been attending local school learning Mandarin. My son said today he likes Chinese better than English and loves to sing the songs he learns in Chinese too. So your comments about the tonal language of Mandarin were also really interesting. If you have any ideas on how to control an Aspie's volume - that would be SO welcomed.

NE Walker

I agree these ideas are significant. I am an Aspie and regard opera as the nearest thing I will ever have to a religion. Living near a theater that airs the Met Live HD performances, I go there to enjoy the perfection of what I consider the greatest art form. It is perfect sound performed to the highest levels in a setting that is also visually crafted to very high levels. I myself can't read a note of music and have very little technical knowledge of the art, but that doesn't keep me from enjoying it.

Having said this, and understanding that we Aspies have what you might call a high moral sense that the human world seldom demonstrates, I theorize that our relationship to the voice follows the same pattern as our artistic sense: i.e., is the person we are listening to speaking sincerely, truthfully? Is their message overlaid with fear or misunderstandings or motives that veil the meaning? When I sense less than pure communication, it is as repellant and frustrating as listening to a scratchy 78 rpm recording of a master singer, or watching a bad movie. When the person is communicating with greater purity, clearer intent, more accuracy, it is a sound that is welcome to my ears.

From the usual Aspie flatness of tone I have trained myself to strive to speak more musically, which has given me more success in communication; I find people are more attentive and accepting of my message. The flatness may have simply been an attempt to "lay low" or avoid confrontations because I had not learned some of the rules of speech communication. I try to think of the tonal magic a parent uses with an infant and expand on that range, or simply regard my speech as music that has the potential to attract and touch a person. The lessons of grand opera can be applied to the everyday. But the purity of motive of everyday speech does have an effect on the hearer.


Would you mind visiting my blog and commenting on the question I ask the readers about speech processing?

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