Autistic Performance Music, Dance, Art, Sport/Multi-Media
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.
P.S. 177 iPad Band (USA)
In mid-December, a major USA based television network featured a segment on a group of autistic students from a New York City public school on an important news programme: CBS Sunday Morning. For years Adam Goldberg, a classical pianist who teaches music at P.S. 177 in Queens, New York, was keen to enhance communications with his students with learning disabilities, such as autism. As one step in doing so he began using an iPad to help them communicate. The use of the ipads led to the formation of the P.S. 177 iPad Band, which recently performed in Washington DC. The band has also become a life changing experience for the ASD youth members as well as their parents. While MFAI’s CEO had met Adam with over the past couple of years, and was aware of his work, we believe that this clip- and related publicly – is a testament to his vision and persistence.
Autism Conference Across Lifespan (India)
In October, SOCH, a multidisciplinary service working for children with developmental difficulties based in Gurgaon, India, hosted a three day conference. The goal of the conference was to provide hands on capacity building for all those involved in autism including parents, school teachers, counsellors, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, music and art therapists, professionals, advocates and individuals.
The conference was centred around two workshops -Level I and Level II Certification in Autism Movement Therapy, Faculty: Joanne Lara, Founder Autism Movement Therapy and endorsed by Temple Grandin and Transition and Adulthood Workshop: It’s never too early to start planning for college, employment, relationships, independent living, Dr Stephen Shore, Clinical Assistant Professor, Adelphi University, who was previously diagnosed with aspergers
Apple – Launch two new Autism Apps (USA)
In early October, Apple released SPEAKall! for AAC in Autism, an evidence-based therapy app specifically designed to introduce augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) in autism spectrum disorders and/or developmental speech and language disorders. SPEAKall! was originally developed by the Purdue University Program for Engineering Projects in Community Service (EPICS) in conjunction with the Purdue AAC Research Lab and the Purdue Speech-Language Clinic. This application has been designed to help children and adults with little to no functional speech acquire an initial symbol vocabulary and learn the process of constructing sentences. SPEAKall! is a versatile learning platform that goes beyond simple symbol activations for voice output by actively engaging the learner in speech and language acquisition.
In late November, Apple released Proloquo2Go, an award-winning symbol-based communication app that gives a voice to those who cannot speak. Over 175,000 people already use this AAC app as a powerful tool for expressing themselves and increasing their communication skills and language development. Its innovative features let users, parents, teachers and therapists quickly personalize the app. Proloquo2Go is an AAC (Augmentative and Alternative Communication) app used by people with autism, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy and other diagnoses. It is available in English, Spanish, French, and Dutch for iPad, iPhone, iPod touch and Apple Watch.
Pathlight School (Singapore)
In early October, the Pathlight School’s Youth Choir, part of now 1,200 student Pathlight School (a world leader) and a musical ensemble which included a brass trumpet, clarinet, ruan and violin performed a medley of classical music and pop favorites in a public concert.
In 2012, 2014 and 2016, Harvard University’s all male a capella group, Din & Tonics, performed with the Pathlight Youth Choir. While the Din & Tonics tour every two years to raise funding, while in Singapore it supports Pathlight’s Youth Choir. More than 2,000 people attended the 2016 performance, including senior Singapore Government officials.
Pathlight also operates a very successful ASD arts programme. In early December, illustrations by 6 of Pathlight’s student and alumni artists from the Artists Development Programme (ADP) were selected to display their art work as signage along one of Singapore’s MRT stations.
New England Center for Children (USA)
In October, MFAI advised on a 7 week percussion pilot for NECC (US), a leading ASD school located just outside of Boston, Massachusetts. The pilot involved a professional string trio of local musicians (trained at Berklee College of Music, Eastman School of Music and New England Conservatory) performing live 30 minute music programmes to selected NECC students across the ASD spectrum within the school, on a weekly basis. The goal of the pilot was to assess the changes over the 7 week period, to then be able to construct a bespoke curriculum. Over the 7 week period, the facilitator (coached by MFAI), the musicians and the students involved in the pilot demonstrated increased attention spans, improved coordination, movement and mental engagement- even among those with numerous protective minders. Some students also attempted to play selected instruments such as the viola and glockenspiel
The next step is to secure funding for a parents concert (to raise awareness about the pilot and its success) and to secure longer term financing to make this programme sustainable.
8-year-old autistic girl creates amazing portraits (USA)
In December, The Art of Autism featured a lengthy article about Sofia Valentina, an 8 year old, who was diagnosed as ASD as a toddler, spoke 3 languages by the time she was 3 and has spent over 10,000 hours drawing by the time she turned 8. For more information on her work, including a number of her drawings, please visit:
Kaylee Rogers (Northern Ireland)
In late November, Kaylee, now aged 11, from Killard House School, performed at the Northern Ireland’s National Autistic Society's Christmas Prom . Her 3rd song that evening, “Somewhere over the rainbow” was one dedicated to her school’s Principal Colin Millar whose wife, Claire, passed away in early November. To view this performance, please visit:
To those of you who do not remember Kaylee from her Q4 2016, with her moving rendition of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah, please visit:
Both MFAI and the TAAC (see below) would like to send our thanks to Colin and his team, Kaylee and her family for performing with the Autistic Adult Choir (TAAC) (UK) at the Arts Club in London on Autism Awareness Day in April
The Autistic Adult Choir (UK)
In November, TAAC opened Deutsche Bank’s Annual Charity Dinner in London performing a selection of five 20th century musical selections across a number of genres. The audience of nearly 800 people, all in formal attire, was the largest audience to date for the now three year old choir, many of which were diagnosed later in life. This is extraordinary progress both in musical development as well as vagaries in performing live –in a hotel ballroom-with lighting and sound complications which did not deter them.
In December, the TAAC then performed at the Christmas concert for ALAG (Asperger London Area Group), which provides valuable social support to high functioning but vulnerable adults on the autism spectrum across London, and a carol sing a long at St Martin in the Fields.
Asperger Lazio Group (Italy)
The Autistic Football Club, supported by a global football brand, Lazio, officially launched its 3rd season during October. Training sessions are held weekly from October through June at the SS Romulea, an accredited football center in Rome. The club, comprised of both males and females, plays in friendly matches, competitive tournaments and recreational events.
Brittany Maier (USA) – Texas Charity Performance
Brittany Maier is a blind and autistic pianist who can play by ear. She did not speak until age 5, when she burst into song. The parents then bought her a keyboard and she was off. Brittany burst onto the US media scene in 2005, in an important television interview on NBC. She continues to perform publicly and to raise awareness in autism.
In November, pianist Brittany Maier, Matteo Bocelli, Jackie Evancho, and Marlana Van Hoose performed What a Wonderful World at Best Buddies Event in Dallas, Texas. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yBu_BbZ_0Eo
Apaixonado Quartet (Vietnam)
In October, Violist Nguyet Thu performed with the Apaixonado Quartet in a concert entitled “In Love”. Previously she graduated from the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory. She had previously won second prize at the Moscow International Viola Competition and has performed as a soloist and lead viola with foreign orchestras across the world. She returned to Vietnam in 2014 and founded the Apaixonado String Quartet. She has a son who was diagnosed as autistic at age 2 and did not speak at age 4; now, at age 15, he speaks 4 languages.
In 2016, she also opened the School for Arts, the first school that taught music to children with autism in Vietnam. In this school, they teach music, dance, speech therapy, and drama therapy, in addition to mathematics, vocational guidance and living skills. By 2017, she also managed three art schools in Vietnam with some 45 students
The A Word – BBC Television (UK)
In November, the BBC launched its 2nd series of “The A Word””, a six week series of one hour programmes on autism. Episode one, season two of The A Word aired the week of 7th November. In this episode, the lead character used the word "autism" for the first time leading many people to take to social media to discuss this condition.
The initial season of The A Word was cited for its tackling of the issues related to autism in a straight-forward way. In season one, viewers met five-year-old Joe and his family as they came to terms with his being diagnosed as autistic. Joe had communication problems, isolating himself and listening to 1970s pop music which he knew about in-depth and the lyrics he could recite flawlessly. His parents initially seemed oblivious to the symptoms, but once diagnosed they adapted while the grandfather, initially unable to deal with diagnosis also learnt to adapt.
Nordoff-Robbins Annual Carol Service (UK)
Every December, Nordoff Robbins hosts an evening of Christmas carols, celebrity readings and musical performances. In December 2017, Nordoff Robbins' annual carol service featured a host of special guests, with readings from the Rory Bremner, Dame Eileen Atkins, Anna Maxwell Martin, David Gyasi and live performances from Izzy Bizu, Esther Yoo and The British Collective. There was an exclusive performance from singer-songwriter Izzy Bizu, who was shortlisted for a 2015 BRIT’s Critic’s Choice Award . Joining Izzy was violinist Esther Yoo, the first ever Artist-in-Residence with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Also performing a set were the “Godfathers of UK Soul” The British Collective.
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