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Music from the heart

Washington Academy of Music to offer

special needs program.

As far as Kim Kullberg knows, the Washington Academy of Music’s special needs program is the first of its kind in the area.

Kullberg, co-owner and instructor at the Washington Academy of Music in Silverdale, will begin teaching classes for special needs children in June.

“I want to focus on autistic children, but it’s special needs in general,” Kullberg said. “We want every child to be able to be creative and express themselves.”

Two years ago, Kullberg taught an 8-year-old autistic boy how to play guitar and the experience stuck with her.

“He had a really high success rate,” Kullberg said.

The boy’s mother put Kullberg in touch with a special education teacher at Green Mountain Elementary School. Since then, Kullberg has been working with and learning from the teacher and now volunteers her time to teach music to autistic children at the elementary school.

“The big part of it is just knowing in general how to keep (autistic children’s) attention, to keep them more drastically engaged,” Kullberg said. “It’s not that they’re not intelligent, you just have to approach them in a different way.”

Aside from learning tips from a seasoned teacher, Kullberg spends lots of time reading up on autism and other special needs. She also is taking a class at Olympic College on how to work with learning disabled students.

“We here (at Washington Academy of Music) are prepared and understand what your child needs,” Kullberg said.

Kullberg said Washington Academy of Music’s special needs program costs the same as regular music classes and the children will start out playing a recorder as well as learning the basics of music and patterns.

“And then from there, they’ll be able to explore the guitar and piano and decide which way they want to go,” Kullberg said.

Kullberg said parents need to tell her or other Washington Academy of Music employees the exact needs of their children before starting classes.

“It’s so different for each child that we need to be aware,” she said. “The program’s going to vary depending on the needs of the child.”

As of now, Kullberg will be the only special needs instructor at the Washington Academy of Music, but she plans to train her co-workers for the special needs program in the future.

“It’s not just lessons, we’re trying to be role models for these kids,” Kullberg said. “You have to go the extra mile for them.”

For information about the Washington Academy of Music’s special needs program, visit its Web site at www.waacademyofmusic.org or call (360) 613-5700.

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