I wasn't a music therapist when I had the chance to work with Karl (as usual, name has been changed). Not yet; I was still in college, doing a music therapy practicum under the supervision of a certified therapist.
My first time "meeting" Karl was an interesting experience; a staff member at the facility offered to introduce me to him, but it turned out that "introducing me" meant standing five feet away, watching Karl lean his forehead against the window and lick the glass. And, inexperienced and nervous, I had no idea where to go from there.
Reading his file was a little more informative than the staff had been. Karl had Down's Syndrome, Autism, Sensory Processing Disorder, and some hormonal disorders besides. As a kid he'd been able to talk and read and write, but at age eight he'd started to lose those skills. As an adult, about my own age, he was functionally nonverbal, only repeating back what was said to him if he spoke at all. Most of the time he