ONALASKA, Wisconsin (WXOW) - Sam Reuteman's life is filled with music.
Little does he know, it's also therapy.
Reuteman, 14, has a little trouble expressing himself when he's not singing.
The Aquinas eighth grader has autism.
Neurologic Music Therapist Amy Schaack helps him communicate through classes at Life in Harmony Music Therapy in Onalaska.
"I would ask him, 'What do you want to do today' and it was a constant answer, ‘I need help, help, help, help' and I knew he didn't need help. He knew what he wanted, he just didn't know how to say it or didn't know what his options were," Schaack said. "So, by singing him, ‘What do you want to do today,' allows him to process it in a different way and allows him to answer musically."
From his classes, Reuteman has been able to express himself verbally, using full phrases, Schaack said.
"It's not every time, but with one prompt he can usually correct himself and use the correct verb and say, ‘I went' or ‘I did' instead of ‘I do,'" Schaack said.
"You can ask Sam a question and he will give you sometimes a rote answer, very ‘yes…' but one thing (Shaack's) working on is very ‘give and take' and he'll sing it back," said Callie Reuteman, Sam's mom. "He has an easier time doing that than if you just talk to him. That's been huge for him"
To show his progress, Sam is singing one of his favorite songs, Any Dream Can Do, in a Life in Harmony Music Therapy recital Sunday.
It's a way to practice motor skills, but to Sam and that audience, it's a performance of a lifetime.
You can see Sam and the other Life in Harmony students perform Sunday, Nov. 4, at the Onalaska Omni Center Reception Hall 3 & 4.
The performance starts at 4 p.m. and is open to the public.
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