Letter from Patron of Jamie's Concert
Janice Ballard-Mather LTCL. BSc(Hons). MSc
Dear Friends in Japan,
I have known Noriko Ogawa for nearly nineteen years and we have developed a deep friendship and become very close. She has been very supportive of both myself and my children as they were growing up and through all the difficult early years of living with Jamie’s autism, Noriko helped me to cope.
Jamie, my son is now 16 years old. He is a beautiful child with a gentle, loving personality. But you don’t always see this side of him because he is severely autistic. This makes him very frustrated at times. He does not speak and his severe learning difficulties mean he does not understand how to communicate. Often it is a guessing game to decide what he wants and needs! But where he is happy you have to smile with him, he lifts your spirits to see him cope with all his problems, and he is loved dearly by all his family, friends and carers.
I know how hard it is as a mother to care for your autistic child. There are always the practical issues - lack of sleep, trying to communicate, trying to understand your child to name but a few. But also, there is the shock and grief to overcome. These very real and tangible feelings are very hard to deal with and parents need so much help and support. I know that Noriko recognized how difficult these feelings are. I remember how she would help me through the long nights when Jamie was awake for hours by talking to me, and helping me to relax. This is so important and I know Noriko was able to see that, although Jamie was not easy to care for, the bond between mother and child is just as strong as if he was just another normal child.
Keeping relaxed and strong is so important when caring for a child with special needs, it would be so good for mother of children with autism to be able to go to a first class concert and that they can really relax and enjoy beautiful music to calm their minds and lift their spirits. I know how much I appreciated listening to classical music. It meant so much to me to be able to have some time for myself.
I know the benefits of listening to music; I was for 20 years a classical musician, a Horn player. Then I studied for a degree in biology and then undertook a Masters Degree in Neuropsychology. I am now working for my PhD in Neuropsychology. The psychological benefits of having time to relax and stimulate one’s mind can make a real difference to the way you can give the best care to your autistic child and having a mother who is happy and at ease will be reflected in the way the child copes with all the difficulties they face in the world.
I wish Noriko and all the best for her venture and I know with her hard work and all her talents, she will succeed in giving mother of autistic children in Japan the gift of her support and care, that I was so grateful to receive when my Jamie was a small child.