By Ellen Hill for Grace Kim Photos: David Hill, Deep Hill Media
How does a child with Asperger’s syndrome experience everyday life? How does it feel to be child who is different?
New children’s book Noah’s Story answers those questions and more, and gives children with the condition a tool with which to explain their condition, their symptoms and how they feel.
Bullaburra resident Grace Kim wrote the book to help her son Noah Hylkema, his friends and teachers understand his Asperger’s diagnosis in 2016 after a long period of challenging experiences at school.
Noah illustrated the book.
Written in Noah’s “voice’’, it uses examples of behaviours a person whose brain works differently and offers practical suggestions for how others can respond.
Ms Kim wrote the book after Noah’s diagnosis after she and husband Teije Hylkema had read numerous books and attended workshops and seminars about autism to understand the condition and find a way to disclose the information to Noah and his classmates.
“After reading a mountain of books, I still couldn’t find a book that resonated with us personally,’’ she said.
“So one desperate night, I decided to write a story from Noah’s perspective to help him, his friends and teachers understand him and his diagnosis.
“I showed it to Noah to check with him if I represented his feelings correctly (thankfully, yes!) and asked if he would like to do some drawings for it to take it to school the next day.
“This ended up being a wonderful way to introduce the subject and for him to be fully involved and in control of his `coming out’.’’
Hazelbrook Public School student Noah, 9, who has written stories and illustrated since he was four years old, said the book was a way to explain Asperger’s to his classmates in a format they would understand and relate to – “my class likes stories’’.
He summed up Asperger’s in one sentence: “I have a brain that’s a bit different to yours – I find some things easy that other people find hard (like computer coding and haiku poems) and some things hard that other people find easy (like handwriting).’’
Endorsing the book, Friends and Ben Bumblefoot author Teena Raffa-Mulligan said Noah’s Story “presents the message `Sometimes I will make mistakes but I am learning just like you’ with beautiful simplicity’’.
A concert pianist, artistic director and Churchill Fellow, Ms Kim said she never intended to write a book for public publication but hoped Noah’s Story would encourage others to share their own stories.
The book complemented the Sensory Concerts she instigated last year to provide access to quality live music to people with sensory issues that prevent them from attending public events such as concerts.
Run by the Your Music Inc registered charity and always featuring Ms Kim and often cellist Mr Hylkema, the concerts have been designed for people of all ages, especially families with sensory or special needs such as autism spectrum disorder, physical or intellectual disabilities who experience feelings of being overwhelmed by crowd, noise, light, smell and touch.
Performed to small groups in a relaxed atmosphere, they have a range of seating options and a retreat space where audience members can self-regulate or seek support from the onsite occupational therapist and psychologist.
Your Music Inc also holds tailored concerts in aged care facilities, hospitals, schools and private homes.
The free Noah’s Story book launch will be held at Bullaburra Village Green (wet weather option Bullaburra Progress Hall), Noble St, from 10.30am to 12.30pm Sunday, December 16. Signed copies of the book will be available for purchase, and there will be live music, reading and a playground for children. RSVP.
By Ellen Hill for Grace Kim
People with sensory issues that prevent them from attending public events such as concerts can immerse themselves in a specially designed live music performance at Glenbrook on April 23.
To be held on a weekday during school holidays to cater for aged care facilities, centres for people with a disability and families, it will feature internationally acclaimed musicians Erica Kennedy on violin, flautist Lisa Osmialowski and Bullaburra concert pianist Grace Kim.
Part of the Sensory Concerts series, it has been designed for people of all ages, especially families with sensory or special needs such as autism spectrum disorder, physical or intellectual disabilities who experience feelings of being overwhelmed by crowd, noise, light, smell and touch.
Performed to small groups in a relaxed atmosphere, there will be a range of seating options and a retreat space where audience members can self-regulate or seek support from the onsite occupational therapist and psychologist.
“We really don’t mind if people need to move around, lie on a crash mat or take time out from everyone else for a while,’’ Ms Kim said.
“We select music especially so that everyone benefits from the power of the music without feeling overwhelmed or restricted.’’
As an internationally renowned professional concert pianist and music educator Ms Kim knows firsthand the benefits of music to health and wellbeing, and strives to make it accessible to everyone who needs it.
A mother of two young children, one with Asperger’s syndrome, Ms Kim said: “Young children are especially sensitive to their surroundings and tend to react in certain ways like moving or making noise, to cope.
“That’s why families with children tend to shy away from traditional concerts for fear of disrupting others.
“But we all know that music is one of the best things for the brain development, and these families miss out on the crucial time when their brain are developing.’’
Subsidised through a Blue Mountains City of the Arts grant, Sensory Concerts are offered at affordable prices to ensure they are accessible to all.
The next Sensory Concerts will be held at Lower Mountains Anglican Parish, 1 Wascoe St, Glenbrook, at 10.45am and 12pm on Monday, April 23. Tickets: $25 adults, $65 families (2 adults, up to 3 children), $15 children under 16 years. Click HERE to book.
- Grace Kim is a commercial client of Deep Hill Media
By Ellen Hill for Escarpment Group
Masterpieces performed by some of the finest operatic and classical music talent followed by the unique tones of the Steve Hunter Trio will help jazz up the Blue Mountains nightlife scene in time for summer from the end of this month.
Celebrate the long weekend in a sensual atmosphere of music, heartbreaking tragedy, passion and cheeky fun when the operatic traditions of the grandest of the region’s grand hotels are revived during the Blue Mountains Opera Festival on Saturday, September 30, and Sunday, October 1.
Opera buffs can choose from one or more of the following performances:
- High tea, Saturday: Mozart’s magnificent masterpiece, his Clarinet Quintet, will begin the weekend on a high note featuring Sydney Symphony Orchestra clarinettist Frank Celata with the Enigma Quartet (you may even catch the singers giving a sneak preview of the evening concert).
Opera Gala Dinner Concert, Saturday: After a glowing inaugural success last year, Opera Australia tenor Brad Cooper, mezzo/soprano Sally Wilson and bass Damian Whiteley will take guests on an evening of drama, passion and cheeky fun. The singers will be accompanied by Sun Yi and Monique Irik on violin, Neil Thompson (viola), Minah Choe (cello) and Grace Kim (piano). Guests will also enjoy drinks and canapes on arrival at 5.30pm followed by an alternate two-course dinner with four-hour beverage package before the 7pm concert. Cost: $150pp.
- High tea, Sunday: The festivities crescendo when eight of the finest string players perform with the ever popular Mendelssohn Octet featuring the talents of Sun Yi, Marianne Broadfoot, Monique Irik and Kerry Martin on violins, Rosemary Curtin and Neil Thompson on violas and Minah Choe and Rowena Macneish on cello.
Each high tea concert package ($65pp) includes a glass of sparkling wine or cocktail on arrival with a sumptuous three-tier offering including a selection of gourmet sandwiches, scones, pastries and handmade desserts served with tea and coffee. High tea will be served between 10.30am and 12pm with the concert from 12pm to 1pm.
Then, surrounded by the rustic industrial textures of brick and steel in the historic Boiler House Restaurant, the Steve Hunter Trio will kick off a new monthly Live@TheBoilerHouse music series on Saturday, October 7, with an intimate musical experience.
Featuring the internationally-renowned Steve Hunter on electric bass, Matt Keagan (sax) and Gordon Rytmeister (drums), the band encourages unique input from its individual musicians. Instead of taking on one typical jazz style, the composition style sees a focus on the strength of the “voices’’ of the players.
Joined by Michael Storey on guitar and Mervyn Sequeria on bass, singer Rebekka Neville will perform her repertoire of jazz standards, Latin and contemporary grooves on November 4.
The renowned George Washingmachine Quartet will play the Boiler House with his special blend of music and visual talent on November 25.
General manager of Escarpment Group, which owns the Hydro Majestic, Ralf Bruegger said: “With a more casual atmosphere, contemporary music lineups, tapas food and reasonably-priced beverages, Boiler House events will introduce a new generation to the original Blue Mountains party palace.
“Music, parties and general revelry have always been a signature of the Hydro Majestic experience. People came here a hundred years ago to indulge and have fun, and we encourage the same today (elegantly of course).’’
The Steve Hunter Trio will play the Boiler House Restaurant from 7.30pm to 10pm Saturday, October 7. Tickets: $35. Bookings: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Go to www.hydromajestic.com.au or phone (02) 4782 6885 to book concerts, accommodation and dining.
*Escarpment Group is a commercial client of Deep Hill Media
By Ellen Hill for The Sebel Hawkesbury Resort & Spa
Get into the blues and roots groove in stylish luxury when the only 4.5 star resort in the Hawkesbury-Nepean region hosts two free Sydney Blues and Roots Festival gigs during the weekend of October 23 to 25.
The tone will be set with fireworks by the lake at the front of The Sebel Hawkesbury Resort & Spa at 8.30pm on the Friday, before Dr Don’s Double Dose takes over the Barracks Bar from 8.45pm to 10.30pm.
There will be more lakeside musical action with James Bennett at 2pm, Liza Ohlback at 3pm and Glenn Cardier and The Sideshow from 4.30pm to 6pm on Sunday, October 25.
The popular music festival will be held across nine venues throughout Windsor in the Hawkesbury region at the foothills of the world-famous Blue Mountains.
Now in its seventh year, the Hawkesbury Council-sponsored festival will again feature the best established and emerging local, national and international blues and roots acts, and transcends age, gender and culture barriers with gigs in intimate performance spaces, market stalls, buskers, jam sessions, workshops and youth events.
The Sebel Hawkesbury Resort & Spa general manager David Ross said: “The Sydney Blues and Roots Festival has become a major experience on our community’s social calendar so we are delighted to offer these two music events free to Hawkesbury locals and visitors.’’
He also encouraged festival goers to fully immerse themselves in the event by staying at least one night and exploring activities and locations around the Hawkesbury area.
Just an easy 45 minutes’ drive from Sydney CBD and 60 minutes from Sydney airport, the Sebel Hawkesbury Resort & Spa is luxury travelling at its best.
As well as 8ha of manicured grounds through which to wander, an 18-hole champion golfing range next door and a 9-hole one on-site, several dining options, a full gym and balloon rides, the Sebel Hawkesbury is home to the largest day spa in Western Sydney.
Go to sydneybluesfestival.com.au for a full program of Sydney Blues and Roots Festival events.
The Sebel Hawkesbury Resort & Spa is a commercial client of Deep Hill Media and Headline Publicity