Review: My Journey in Music by Luke Fiddes

Review: My Journey in Music by Luke Fiddes

A sharply written account of a young person coping with the challenges of adolescence, My Journey in Music is both the story of author Luke Fiddes’ success in using music to overcome the difficulties and realise the benefits associated with Asperger syndrome, but also a practical guide for anyone looking to apply these same principles to their own life.

For several years Luke has worked in schools using music to engage with children, helping them to discover the power of expressing yourself through music. He is also a passionate and talented musician on a variety of instruments, and a keen songwriter. Luke’s work is directly influenced by the part that music has played in his own life, frequently stating that it has transformed the way he thinks about and utilises being on the autistic spectrum. Along with co-author John Osborne, whose experiences in using personalised music in a therapeutic setting is invaluable to this project, Luke draws on these convictions throughout the book, resulting in a powerful testament to the potential of using music to help navigate the difficulties of teenage life.

The book is split into two halves. The first half provides a personal account of Luke’s teenage years, charting his growing understanding of his autism, the difficulty he faced initially in dealing with the challenges it presented and his later success in managing them, through perseverance and music. The second half of the book contains activities and questions to work through, encouraging the reader to put Luke’s principles into action in their own lives.

The narrative Luke provided at the outset is remarkable for its frankness, as it takes the reader through Luke’s Journey in Music right alongside him. It pulls no punches, detailing his struggles and frustrations at school and in his personal life. This all serves to make his eventual successes and triumphs all the more inspiring. As well as praising the author for his honesty, it is worth noting too that Luke’s writing is sharp and to the point, which increases itsMy Journey in Music force. Luke’s account provides many eye-opening insights into growing up with Asperger syndrome while also discussing challenges that will be familiar to all young people.

Upon finishing Luke’s story, by following the exercises in the second half of the book it is possible for children or teenagers with special needs to encounter the healing and therapeutic power of music to which Luke attests. The activities are fun and varied, designed to get the reader thinking about the music that is most important to them and the different ways in which they are significant, perhaps through association with a loved one or with a cherished memory. Upon completion, the child will be left with a ‘My Journey in Music Playlist’, listing all their favourite songs in one place, while individual sections (such as ‘Motivation’ or ‘Relaxation’) can be used therapeutically as mood enhancement. For example, the songs from the ‘Relaxation’ playlist and the recorded memories associated with them can be used to unwind following a difficult day. In fact, the book would be useful to any young person due to its powerful central message and the commonality of Luke’s experiences, which are recognisable to any teenager.

The book is therefore doubly important, containing an entertaining, funny and heartfelt narrative through which the reader is presented with a clear path for approaching personalised music in this way, while also of great practical use that will have them directly applying the thoughts and lessons of the first half to their own lives. In Luke’s book, any teenager will find a lot to be motivated, comforted and inspired by.

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Why is training important?

Why is training important?

Hi, I’m Clare Wilcox, an experienced health and social care trainer with 25 years of experience within the care sector, 20 of those working with adults with learning disabilities, complex care needs, PMLD and challenging behaviour, within the NHS.

I’ve been a trainer for 6 years, have a PTLLS qualification and I’m currently half-way through my second year studying for my DET at University.

I thoroughly enjoy being able to increase people’s knowledge, help them to see outside the box, prevent them from becoming complacent, and improve problem solving skills. If you’ve been in a job for a while, it’s all too easy to become complacent! Because people change, our skills need to change along with them – person centred care is vital!

I also like my training sessions to be relaxed and friendly, to ensure everyone contributes and feels valued. It’s your training, and I wholeheartedly believe that you will get out of it what you put in.

There is no such thing as a stupid question in my training!

I’m always keen to ensure that everyone has a full understanding of the subject, and I’m aware that everyone learns in a different way. I am always understanding of this, and like to adapt my training style to suit the trainees. I also like to use personal experiences to support them in embedding their knowledge and understanding. It’s alright having the knowledge, but do you know why you do it the way you do?!

I am also clear that, believe it or not, I don’t know everything – I aim to learn something from my trainees in every session!

Why is training important?

As a trainer, the worst sentence you can hear is ‘We’ve always done it this way’ – I always respond with ‘And has it always worked? And are the people you’re working with now the same as they were then?’.

As well as professional experience in health care supporting people with autism, I also have many years of experience in my personal life, and not all the skills are the same! This has given me a unique understanding of autism and PBS. For many years, people were under the impression that the autistic spectrum was a straight line. It’s not – it’s more like a Pick ‘N Mix from Wilco’s!

From my experience as both a care worker and the parent of a child with autism, it is my firm belief that all behaviour has a reason. Unfortunately, it often takes time to discover what that reason is. This is true for many, whether we’re talking about autism, dementia, or anything else that can affect the brain. For example, for someone with autism it could take an hour for them to process a situation and react. Unlike myself when driving behind someone who forgets to use their indicators – my emotional reaction in that situation is normally quite instantaneous! But for someone with autism, they may express behaviours up to an hour later in response to the same situation.

This is why I am passionate about PBS training and understanding the reasons for the behaviour and supporting an individual at that point, rather than relying on more extreme measures later. It’s about being proactive, not reactive!

It’s always worth remembering that what might be important to our service users may not be important to us, like the seat you sit in on public transport, which mug you drink from or the colour of your plate – but it’s our responsibility to recognise and acknowledge the value that our service users see in these things, and understand how this might influence their behaviour.

To learn more about the face-to-face, online and distance learning Health and Social Care training we offer, click here