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Personal Essay by W&L’s Kolman Singled Out by CNN.com

“There was the news that made the headlines. And then there were the personal stories that made a lasting impact on only a few people, but touched the lives of millions,” said CNN.com in selecting the 13 best personal essays submitted during 2013. Among those stellar essays was one by Barry Kolman, professor of music at Washington and Lee University, and his wife, Grace: “Mano’s Story: Girl With Autism Fights Bullying with Music.”

Their daughter, Mano, is often treated as “not very cool,” as her father gently puts it. She has high-functioning autism and walks and talks a little bit differently from other kids. Tired of the teasing, her parents came up with a plan: Her father would give Mano clarinet lessons.

A year and a half later, Mano is a proud member of her middle school band. Her parents can tell from the way she brags about her membership that it’s made a world of difference in her social life, and they say the lessons also made her more focused in school. They shared their story on CNN’s “iReport” in hopes of helping other children with autism.

Barry is the author of the book “The Language of Music Revealed.” Grace is a counselor and Ph.D. candidate in counseling and supervision at James Madison University.