How music connected us to our daughter’s world

Chloe’s parents were at a low ebb when they found Sense. Their five-year-old daughter, who has autism and global developmental delay, wouldn’t engage with the world around her – or even smile. Sense helped the family to reach each other through music, as Wayne, Chloe’s dad explains.  

Chloe’s parents, Wayne and Laura, share their story. With special thanks to Tim, our former music artist, and players from Orchestra of the Swan. A descriptive transcript of Chloe’s video is available here.

Chloe’s such a vibrant character, she has a passion for music and colour – she’s absolutely mad about the rainbow at the moment. Her love for life shines, but because she’s non-verbal, it’s something she expresses in her own way.  

It wasn’t until Sense that we found a meaningful way to connect and communicate with Chloe. She has global developmental delay, sensory processing disorder and autism, which was only diagnosed at the beginning of this year. 

She’s started to communicate a lot more over the last 12 months. Thanks to Sense, she’s got into music and it’s kind of opened up a gateway for her – for all of us. 

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Music brought us connection and laughter

From the first Sense music session with Tim, the resident music artist, Chloe connected with it. She played on the drums and was instantly calm and focused. This was such a change, as previously she’d never sit still or engage with other people.  

She formed a quick bond with Tim, who didn’t force any verbal communication with her but just played instruments and echoed the singsong sounds she made. 

It must have been a great release for Chloe, to find a way to express herself and feel understood. In those sessions, we were shown just how much music is an extension of her. Picking up a drum kit or playing the keyboard, it seems to sooth any frustration. 

Those music sessions definitely supported Chloe’s development more widely. The amount she’s progressed since March 2023, when she started the sessions… well, we just can’t believe it. She’s always come back from Sense a bit more confident, a bit more like a big girl. Like she’s walking with a rein instead of being in her pushchair and being more interested in communicating in other ways, like with her Makaton signs and even signing. 

One of the best things has been the improvement in her relationship with her brothers – that’s increased tenfold. Our boys sometimes struggled to get close to Chloe because she could be quite challenging. Our youngest wasn’t ever even acknowledged by her. But now they can all sit and play their instruments together, and she’ll even approach our youngest to play, which is so nice to see.  

The difference in her is huge. We have a lot more happier times as a family. She never used to smile or laugh but she does now. It sounds a small thing but actually that’s huge.  

Chloe and her brother in the playroom together at Sense TouchBase Pears.

Now we see the progress every day

Day-to-day life in the family was, until recently, hard. Chloe was going through a very frustrating time. She was trying to communicate, but we didn’t understand anything other than the spoken word. 

When she was diagnosed, it was completely new to us. We’d never heard of global developmental delay and had no idea what that meant. But from our first phone call with Sense, we knew we’d had a breakthrough; it was more information than we’d had in the last 12 months.  

We were always told that Chloe might never talk, but now we see the progress every day. Without Sense, I’m not absolutely sure where Chloe would be. The music and the Makaton signs they’ve given her has been a huge help. 

Chloe loves being twirled around in the arms of her dad, Wayne.

Chloe’s even trying to sing ‘Over the Rainbow’ at the moment. And she sang happy birthday to me, which was very emotional. I’m a big softie and she’s made me cry many times with these little glimpses she gives us into her world. 

Like I said earlier, Chloe loves rainbows, and the way I think about it is that music takes her over the rainbow into our world. It’s her bridge, the link between her world and ours, where she can be herself without being alone. That’s something we are eternally grateful for. 

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