More pianists have Asperger’s than we think

Grace in Seattle

I cut off my clothes and underwear tags. I have accidentally cut holes in my DKNY underwear.

The University of Haifa in Israel scanned the brains of 53 people with Asperger’s and found that when reacting to unknown touch, the section of their brains light up similar to when reacting to a phobia.

Sometimes, in a lesson, my piano teacher would randomly tap the beat on my shoulder and I would flinch. And tapping never helps. I have to hear the pulse to keep the beat.

A lot of piano teachers still tap the beat on their students’ shoulders. It’s a scare tactic.

One teacher told me their students say it “freaks them out” when she touches them on the shoulder.

“They get used to it,” she says.

I’m horrified.

When I do have to touch my students, it’s always going to be their hand or finger, when they can see me reaching for it, when it’s inevitable that I have to correct them.

When I researched with people who were visually blind, I always told them exactly where I was going to touch them. I need that from someone who’s about to touch me.

Sometimes I consider if I’d rather teach in-person lessons. But, online lessons are a lot better for me because I know that the student can’t touch me. And so then I also don’t have to disinfect the piano and bench.

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