Autistic Performance Music, Dance, Art, Sport/Multi-Media
Founder and Editor; Henry Tillman, Chairman TAAC, MFAI
This newsletter is designed to highlight autistic performances across the above components which occurred globally during the quarter noted. We have attempted to limit the reading time for each entry to less than 30 seconds. We also attempted to provide visual links wherever possible.
We hope you find this useful and please do share it widely. We also keen to accept input from any of our readers.
Beautiful Mind Charity (Singapore)
The fourth “Beautiful Mind Music Academy Concert” organized by BMC Singapore was staged on Sunday, 22 April at the SOTA Concert Hall. The performers include 12 BMMA students, the Beautiful Mind Singapore (BMS) Ensemble and 4 guest musicians from BMC Korea. We have clearly been impressed at how much progress the Beautiful Mind Charity has made over the past few years.
Asia-Pacific Development Center on Disability (APCD)
More than 300 participants attended the 10th year celebration of World Autism Awareness Day hosted by APCD in Bangkok on 2nd April. The day’s events included a presentation on 'Promoting Autism Development in ASEAN Countries: Situation Analysis & The Way Forward'. There was also a performance by Arun-Chandra Band, the first band (all percussion) composed of persons with autism in Thailand. This is consistent with the ASD youth performances in percussion Music For Autism International has previously sponsored in Canada and Hong Kong.
Jazz Hands for Autism (Los Angeles, USA)
Jazz Hands for Autism (JHFA) hosted a programme titled “Exceptional Sounds by Exceptional People” at their concert on May 26th in Los Angeles. The event celebrated Jazz Hands for Autism’s 4th anniversary which featured a concert and a reception. The concert featured vocalists, instrumentalists and rappers, all of whom are on the autism spectrum. Music genres performed at the concert ranged from pop to rock to rap and to jazz.
Ifunanya Nweke, Executive Director and founder of JHFA, that focuses on musical opportunities for adults with autism in the metro Los Angeles area said “The concert is special because it provides a place where individuals on the autism spectrum can be celebrated for their gifts and talents.” Nweke started JHFA four years ago as a local non-profit designed to foster and promote the musical abilities of ASD adults.
Kaylee Rogers (Northern Ireland)
Kaylee, who is now an 11 year old with autism, appeared on new ITV talent show, Little Big Shots on 22nd May. Earlier this year Kaylee performed on the primetime TV US talent programme of the same name, with her rendition of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah. The YouTube clip of Kaylee's performance on NBC's Little Big Shots with American a cappella group Pentatonix has been viewed by millions of people online. Based on the American series, the UK Little Big Shots showcases children aged 3- 13 in a programme with no prizes and no competition. Kaylee appeared with the Autistic Adult Choir at a concert at the Arts Club in London on Autism Awareness Day in 2017.
Matt Savage (USA)
On 22 June, Matt Savage, a 26-year-old ASD pianist performed two solo piano concerts at the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival. Historically Matt, who lives in Boston and a graduate of the Berklee School of Music, has performed with the likes of Chaka Khan, Wynston Marsalis and Jackson Browne. He plans to be spending his summer touring India, Japan and China promoting his new album.
Pathlight School (Singapore)
In May, over 15 ASD students from Pathlight School 2018 saw their first year participating in the Singapore Youth Festival – SYF Arts Presentation Primary category for Dance (International). Entitled 'Chasing Dreams', the performance was a testament to the perseverance and strength the students displayed in achieving their goals. Through dance, our performers expressed their inner voice and showcased their special talent. They also proved that they can fulfill their dreams as long as they don’t give up.
Autism Dance Day (UK)
The UK’s 7th annual Autism Dance Day occurred on 27th April, led by Anna Kennedy, OBE. As part of the day, Autism with Attitude street dance group from Hillingdon Manor School, Uxbridge — who made history last July when they qualified as the first special needs dance team to make it through to the finals of the (street dance) United Dance Organisations (UDO) Championships — were preparing to head off to the European Championships (11-13 May) in Kalkar, Germany.
South China Morning Post’s Spirit of Hong Kong Awards (Hong Kong)
Spirit of Hong Kong Awards nominee Vicky Chan is up for this award which honours people who have embarked on inspirational journeys to achieve their dreams. The 36 year old autistic artist has won praise for her artistic creations, which can be found at exhibitions, on walls, and on packaging for commercial products.
Chan, works with i-dArt, which stands for “i do different art” in a community space affiliated with charitable organisation Tung Wah Group of Hospitals, which promotes social inclusion in Hong Kong by encouraging people with different abilities to participate in art. Bellini Yu, who helps run i-dArt and facilitate Chan’s development, says the painter has been working there for six years since she took an art course organised by Tung Wah.
Chan enjoys painting so much that she now spends half of her time working on her artwork at home and in the studio, while working part-time at a bakery. “She is not good at expressing her feelings in words, but her perseverance and long attention span enable her to excel at painting,” Yu says. Once she has decided to paint something, Chan immerses herself in the work.
Autistic Artists (UK)
In April, Metro (UK) reporter Violet Fenn wrote a story on autism and art. Excerpts below: “Public perception of autistic people as ‘Rain Man’ style geeks is finally changing, thanks to increased media visibility and awareness. But there’s still an assumption that autistic people are mostly tech whizzes who wouldn’t know their Leonardo from their Lichtenstein. This is a huge misconception though as there are many people in the creative industry, as well as celebrities, with autism. I spoke to 10 artists about their work and how being autistic impacts – often positively – on their creativity”. 10 autistic artists reveal how autism has shaped their art | Metro News
STAGE Performance (Vietnam)
Tam Viet Center (Hanoi) In April there was an article in local Hanoi press discussing how autistic children practicing circus tricks helps them balance their nervous systems.
Nguyen Khoi Nguyen, 16, is a prime example. In May 2017 the Hanoi teenager was recognized by the Vietnam Records Organization – Vietkings for his ability to hold a bottle on his head while riding a unicycle and juggling eight balls for a longer period of time than any other Vietnamese who has tried the feat.
The idea of using circus stunts as a treatment for autistic children came from Phan Quoc Viet, co-founder of the Tam Viet Center in Hanoi, a clinic serving 26 autistic patients. Many of these autistic youngsters have problems controlling their own emotions, resulting in sudden screams, self-harm, or even harming others. Instead of attempting to simply calm the children down, teachers at Tam Viet try to teach patients circus stunts in order to increase their ability to focus and develop their patience. Though they often lack concentration, he says, the circus exercises are a key contributor in keeping them focused. Juggling is used to help patients learn to fully control their hands, while balancing on a roller can enhance focus, calmness, spinal flexibility, and leg activity, while unicycling can increase adroitness and concentration.
Khoi Nguyen could not hide his happiness after performing onstage. “I get to do circus performances and stand onstage. Seeing others applaud makes me very proud. I also get to spend the money I make from the performances,” said the 16-year-old.
Kansas City Royals – Professional Baseball Organisation (USA)
In April, Tarik El-Abour, an outfielder who spent last season playing in the Empire League, signed a contract with the Royals. Signing a contract with a Major League team requires surmounting incredible odds for most ballplayers, but for El-Abour, it means overcoming even more. He is believed to be the first professional ballplayer diagnosed with autism. Although he still faces long odds of reaching the major leagues, he is already a role model for fans with autism, and should be inspiring for anyone pursuing their dreams. As El-Abour put it, “if you feel like you could do something with it, no matter what anyone says, and if you love it keep working there’ll be that one ‘yes,”
Fifteen-year-old Oliver Kettleborough, from North Thoresbury, won three gold medals (floor, rings and vault) and one silver medal at the Artisitic Gymnastics British Championships in Liverpool in April. He competed in the Under 25 age group, thus beating a number of gymnasts in the Senior Category, some nearly twice his age. Oliver began training at age 8 when his mother saw him consistently climbing over furniture and door frames. He currently trains circa 11 hours/week.
The next step is to compete in the National Championships in September.
Dubai Autism Centre (UAE)
On 2nd April, the Dubai Autism Centre (DAC), on the occasion of the World Autism Day, launched the 13th edition of the annual autism awareness campaign, marked by a series of events and activities for the month of April. The drive is being carried out by DAC under the patronage of Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai.
Mohammed Al Emadi, Board Member and Director General of Dubai Autism Centre, said that “the role of the Dubai Autism Centre is not only to provide autism rehabilitation services but also to raise awareness about the issues of children with autism and their families, where it goes in line with the government’s efforts to transform Dubai into a disabled-friendly city by 2020.”
Berklee School of Music (USA)
The Berklee Institute for Arts Education and Special Needs (BIAESN) hosted a conference entitled ABLE Assembly: Arts Better the Lives of Everyone 6th-8th April in Boston. The ABLE Assembly is an exceptional professional development opportunity in the field of arts education and special needs, bringing together educators, artists, researchers, policymakers, school administrators, program administrators, and students to share best practices, engage in hands-on experiences, explore new research and learn from each other.
The event featured presentations and workshops on teaching the arts to students with special needs. Workshops will include opportunities to experience teaching strategies and approaches in music, dance and theatre.
Jill Bradford, CEO of Music for Autism International was one of the presenters at the conference.
NYU School of Medicine (USA)
In April, NYU School of Medicine hosted a celebration of Autism Awareness Month including a series of free educational workshops for families and professionals, exploring various topics affecting children, adolescents, and young adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
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