I left the lesson with Wild Willie feeling like a failure.  He will still not do as directed.  He mostly sits and looks at me and will not do anything unless physically manipulated.  He may or may not play the piano.  Willie does not seem to enjoy the songs or any part of music making.  Is he getting anything out of these lessons?  Why does his mother keep paying me?

Then while driving home I enumerated all the successes.  Willie connected with me casually, bringing me the chair, pen, pencils, ball, cars.  We clink "cheers" with my water and his juice.
Willie mimicked vocal exercises of la, la, la and others.
He answered yes and no questions and even repeated a sentence:  "My name is Willie"
He drew quarter notes and half notes.  We clapped rhythms and put them to silly phrases.
With coercion and manipulation he played finger number songs, lettered note songs, nursery rhymes and jokes.
I actually discovered something Willie found funny.

It is so difficult to know what is happening inside a non-verbal severely autistic child.  However thru close attention, Willie may not respond to verbal communication, but there is a spark in the eye indicating understanding.  Sometimes there is a hint of a smile.  Sometimes I hear this lesson's song as I am heading out the door.

His mother says there are carry over benefits into his regular classroom.  She seems to be thrilled with his progress.  Let us not be quick to judge by pre-set criteria.  Considering Willie's personal needs, the lesson was a success.