Working with Autism

I’ve recently run a few beatbox workshops and music making workshops in schools with young people from the age of 5 up to the age of around 17 who are on the autistic spectrum. Going into the workshops, like I go into any school workshop, I had a number of things prepared so that I was ready to switch the workshop plan if necessary. I quickly learned that there were young people that were either totally into it or totally not. Some of the children were very sensitive to sound and had to wear headphones to dampen the sound. There were one or two that had to be taken out of the room. Of the children that were engaged in the workshop and what I had to deliver, which was around 80%, I experienced some incredible musicianship and strokes of genius. The young people were so ‘into it’ that they weren’t even slightly anywhere else. The level of focus and commitment to the melodies, bass-lines or lyrics they created had tremendous depth and was just such a beautiful experience. I found that I didn’t need to deviate from my ‘A game’ at all, I was actually able to go much deeper into each section of the workshop that I had planned. Amazing!

Autism And The Arts

There is of course a lot of news about people with autism and the level of artistry that, much of the time, comes with varying levels of autism. I’m so looking forward to working with more young people on the autistic spectrum and would love to work on some longer projects. You know, I’ve been doing a lot of song writing of my own recently and I’m living in the world where trying to put emotions or a story into a song is the daily norm. Sometimes it flows quite naturally but more often it takes some time to find the way. With the recent high number of school workshops i’ve delivered to people with autism I have experienced a general high level in the ability to express what it is they want with great artistic flair, depth and articulation. I would really love to work on some longer projects with people with autism and help create (and record) some songs. Who knows, maybe an E.P of their work. 

I’m loving the school workshops I’m delivering, I never know who I’m going to meet and what work we will create together but it is always exciting, full of energy and I always come out of it feeling inspired and experiencing the feeling of inspiring others. 

Here's a pic I took of lyrics written as a group in a class of young people with varying difficulties and autism.

The lyrics read:

CHANGE, MY LIFE'S BEEN REARRANGED

YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT'S GOING ON INSIDE MY BRAIN

THEY'RE HOLDING ME DOWN WITH METAPHORICAL CHAINS

FEELING MISUNDERSTOOD, HOW CAN I EXPLAIN

 

I'LL START WITH THE PAIN

WE ALL FEEL ASHAMED

WILL THIS EVER END

THE HURT IN MY HEAD

THE UNCERTAINTY IS CERTAINLY DISCOURAGING

AND THAT IS WHY NONE OF US ARE FLOURISHING... 

I wish I had documented more work from other sessions too. I'll make it a thing to document more from now on to share.

 

Do you have autism? Do you know someone with autism? Do you love making music or practicing another art-form? Please leave your comments below.

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