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Confronting autism through music

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The last time Marcia Scraders enrolled her special needs son Omori in nursery school in Bermuda, the placement lasted all of an hour.

She arrived at the school to find the teacher chasing Omori back and forth across the room, unable to catch him.

She felt so overwhelmed after that experience, that to cope, she sat down and wrote a reggae song about raising an autistic child.

The song ‘Autistic Child’ is now being played on local radio, and she hopes that it will go worldwide. Ms Scraders DJs under the name Lady Scraders.

Some of the lines in the song are:

“My son has autism, sometimes I have to wonder how to help him

He is so cute and he is not talking.

Though autism children kind of slow

You have to teach them things they don’t know

Like how to come and how to go.”

Omori was diagnosed with pervasive development disorder (PDD) at the age of two.

PDD is on the autism spectrum and consists of delays in socialisation and communication. Many parents start to notice a problem when the child is a baby, and typical onset is before three years old.

Ms Scraders first noticed something was different about Omori at 18 months.

Her older daughter, Amelia, was talking by this age, but Omori wasn’t. Omori wasn’t babbling ‘cat’, ‘dada’ or ‘mama’.

“I took him to the paediatrician, and he said maybe it was because he was a boy that he was a little slow,” said Ms Scraders. “He said boys developed more slowly, and not to worry.”

Ms Scraders waited for Omori to catch up, but this didn’t happen. As more time passed her fears grew.

Her mother living in Jamaica suggested she bring Omori there where he could be properly tested at University Hospital of the West Indies.

There he was diagnosed with PDD.

“The only thing I ever heard about autism was that Toni Braxton’s son had it,” said Ms Scraders. “I didn’t know what to do when they said ‘autism’.

“I tried getting him in nursery school here. They kept him for an hour then called and said they couldn’t manage him.”

She was told about the autism charity Tomorrow’s Voices.

The group provides therapy and education to children with autism but in 2004, they didn’t have space for Omori because they were just setting up their programme, Ms Scraders said.

She decided to find a programme in Jamaica.

“Because it was the only one in Bermuda I thought I was going to have to wait forever,” she said. “I first took him to Jamaica in January 2005. He used to cry so much. I would call my mother and say ‘I feel like I am going insane’.

“So she said to bring him to Jamaica for a little while. So he was down there for about five months and then I went back for him. It was hard to leave him there.

“I called Jamaica every day. But my mother raised ten children, so I trusted her with my son more than anyone else in the world.

“Unfortunately, she recently had a stroke and I have brought Omori back to Bermuda.”

Omori is now five years old. He still does not talk or understand verbal commands very well.

He has been assigned a paraprofessional and starts a government primary school in September.

Ms Scraders hopes that the song will help other parents like herself. The song is on her Facebook page and also plays on 98.3FM.

“I just started taking songwriting seriously when I wrote this song,” she said. “I know I want the song to play in Bermuda and worldwide.

“There are lots of children in the world who have autism. I wrote the song for my son and all the autistic children in the world.”

Left: Marcia Scraders and her son Omori Scraders.(Photo by Akil Simmons)
Marcia Scraders and her son Omori Scraders.

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Published August 11, 2011 at 2:00 am (Updated August 11, 2011 at 9:46 am)

Confronting autism through music

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