In my experience I have taught a wide variety of students. Some have had child prodigy style skills, while others have to work their fingers to the bone to get it done. In all the wonderful variations from old to young, skilled to unskilled, there are few lessons more rewarding than teaching children with special needs.
In my business teachers tend to shy away from this, and I can understand. I've known fantastic teachers that don't have the patience or heart required to teach these wonderful kids. There's nothing wrong with that, and any teacher should stick to teaching what they are most comfortable with. However, these teachers are seriously missing out.
I've had few students more into music than those with special needs. They. Love. It. Music can speak to and for them in ways that words can't. There are many wonderful studies that denote the benefits of learning music as a child. So, why would we leave out the children that could benefit the most from it? We're scared that's why.
Getting music to reach any student on a personal level is an accomplishment. It takes mountains of patience to let a child learn at their pace, and not the pace you set for them. There is a lot of gentle redirection to keep things on task, and some days you feel like you're spinning your wheels or repeating the same thing for the thousandth time. That's where the patience kicks in. Parents have always been amazed by my incredible patience with their children. Most of them can't last more than a few seconds while their child searches for the answer to my question. It's always different when it's your child, and it much easier to teach someone else's.
These great students need to be met where they are and guided to what they can become. Everyone has limitations, so there's no reason to count them out before you even begin. They're amazing, funny, and incredibly unique.
I do my very best to give them the lessons they deserve. A teacher that listens to them and has fun with them isn't too much to ask. I learn from them just as much as they learn from me, and it's better that way. When we both learn and play we get more out of a lesson than just piano keys or guitar strings. It's a little glimpse of heaven coming from the purest souls around.