Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Another gig

"Mom, just get me to the stage!" Reid implored as we anxiously unloaded the van for one of his first gigs a couple years ago. There was a volume of between-the-lines information conveyed in that one little sentence. An empathetic, trained, engaged mom could fill in the paragraph of meaning in those seven simple words:

Mom, I can't do this alone.  I need your help.  I can sing.  I practiced. I know all the words I'm supposed to sing.  I love to perform. I can't wait for the thrill I feel when the people clap.  Will the people cheer? When I get on the stage and the band kicks in, I know I'll be fine but right now, I'm not sure if I can manage the sensory input that I know lies between this already over-stimulating parking structure which smells of carbon monoxide and the plaza we just drove by where Angela and the In Harmony band are expecting me.  But I've seen you do it.  And I trust you.  Will you get me past that gigantic, flagship Tower Records mega-store on the corner through the throngs of noonday workers and passersby at Horton Plaza to the stage they've set up for the NBC Health Fair? They're counting on me and I'm ready!

Well, he did do it!  Reid was the guest vocalist performing some of the songs on the In Harmony Integrated Learning Resource book and CD.  Our personal favorites, "I'm OK When Things Don't Go My Way" and "I'm Listening to What My Body Says" are ones he'd cut his teeth on over the years with Angela Neve as his music therapist. As Reid morphs into a teenager, Angela continues to gift us with her Developer and Futurist strengths (see yesterday's post). It is amazing to watch the sense of purpose and accomplishment which result from performing.  
He's come a long way, baby!  Last month, The Kingsmen Band, of which Reid is a member, had a gig at the Manchester Grand Hyatt in San Diego. The Autism Tree Project filmed their rehearsal session to be shown that evening at the 5th Anniversary "Rock The Lights Out for Autism"benefit gala.  The boys in the band impressed us as we gathered in the opulent lobby and then roamed around to multiple meeting rooms lugging sound equipment while the crew considered the best possible filming location. We experienced moms (with years of stored memories of breakdown, meltdown, and fall out) suggested the cameraman scout it out and get back to us. "These guys don't transition well.  You're going to lose them (mentally and maybe physically too). Do you know change is rough when...," we cautioned. 

Finally, we landed in a vacant ballroom atrium in a different wing of the property. Despite our collective wisdom and fear from hindsight, the boys in the band cooperated with even the unreasonable requests that were made of them.  All in the name of show biz! It was a testament to their motivation to perform, growth in character, ability to delay gratification, flexibility, responsibility to a team, and sense of purpose.  That's why we're doing it!  All good stuff.

Here is a portion of what was shown that night.  Reid is the one giving the unsolicited rave endorsement of The Music Therapy Center of California. That part was not rehearsed or planned.  It is straight from his heart and ironically, might be the best part!

They edited out an equally charming interview with Charlie:

TJ, the cameraman:  Where else do you guys play?  Do you hire out for parties?

Charlie: Ohhh NO.  We don't do parties.  Parties are very loud and too crowded.

Did I mention the film crew had no specific training in autism or speech therapy? Charlie displayed awesome self-advocating skills and honesty. He was gracious and polite to omit what I would have said, "One question at a time please, sir."

Be sure to catch their next gig at Border's Bookstore in Mission Valley Tuesday, June 17 at 7:00pm.

photo credits:


  1. great post. you channel Reido perfectly.

  2. What a great story! Thanks for sharing.

  3. In the city I live there is a band of teenagers. One of the members has aspergers. They are very popular here. The name of the band is Jet Fuel Only. He uses music as a therapy. I love stories like this :)