Okay, so you’ve seen the title of this post and are probably wondering: what is so wonderful about the song “Three Blue Pigeons” that it merits a spot in Friday Faves? The answer is nothing, really, except that this simple fingerplay triggered a breakthrough moment for a little boy named Carter.

Three-year-old Carter is diagnosed with autism, and I’ve been providing music therapy for him over the past eight months. Carter didn’t say much in those first few months, but his words are coming fast and furious these days. From day one, he has demonstrated a love for music, especially the guitar, and his attention span has increased tremendously. Although he has been making eye contact with me and other visible progress during our sessions for a while now, nothing came close to what happened on Wednesday afternoon.

I was a little hesitant to sing the aforementioned “Three Blue Pigeons” with Carter that day, because he had not shown interest in that particular song in the past. But I went ahead and did it anyway, since imitating movements is one of his goals. As I started singing and doing the hand motions, Carter watched me closely. Then, he held up three fingers. He made the sign for “sit”. He waved his arms like a bird, just as I did. And then he continued to perform the movements for the remainder of the song. Halfway through, I snuck a glance at his aunt, who was holding him and watching in disbelief. By the end of the song, she was in tears and I was close behind…it was one of those moments that music therapists live for.

This was a lesson in persistance. As a therapist, it’s easy to dismiss an activity, song, or intervention as useless, just like I almost did with “Three Blue Pigeons”. In this case, the 10th time was a charm. Never completely rule something out…I know I won’t make that mistake again.

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