How Music For Autism Makes A Difference In People's Lives

The work of Music for Autism touches upon two of my great passions: music and supporting individuals with autism… I applaud the work of this charity for not only focusing on young children with autism, but also aiming to improve the lives of young adults with autism… I applaud Music for Autism for enabling children with autism the ability to experience quality music — something that we should all be able to experience — and for giving them the opportunity to listen to music in an environment where no one will be embarrassed… We should celebrate these young people for what they can do as opposed to what they cannot.

— Cherie Booth, QC, Wife of Prime Minister Tony Blair, on Music for Autism

Ali Jordan Jonathan

Click on an image to enlarge

Parents’ Comments:

My daughter and I were at the Music for Autism concert this morning and had an amazing time that we will never forget. I cannot thank you enough for the work that your wonderful organization does. I have done many things with Anna over the years--bringing her to Broadway shows, museums, Radio City Music Hall, tree lighting/caroling, Sesame Place and Disney World. I can honestly say that today’s concert was one of the outings that Anna enjoyed most in her life. She felt so comfortable in the presence of your lovely performers and volunteers and she smiled during most of the program and didn't ask to leave at any point.

The music was spectacular, of course, but even more meaningful was the open hearted attitudes of the performers and the volunteers. It was a delight to see how much all of the children and parents were enjoying themselves as a family. I’m sure that you know how anxiety provoking it can be for families to constantly use the principles of ABA to plan for success in the community, especially in large crowds where children are meant to be “well-behaved.” Even when Anna has enjoyed herself in the past, I have often been too stressed to fully enjoy it along with her. It was a rare pleasure for me to unencumbered by that anxiety in the community because of the “autism-friendly” environment. It literally brought me to shed tears of joy.

Thank you so much for your hard work and commitment to bringing music to individuals with autism. I know that I speak for all the families when I say that what you have created for our children (and for us) is a blessing in our lives. Happy Holidays!

Jennifer Franklin, mother of Anna, age 13
New York, New York

I want to thank you for yesterday's Music for Autism performance. It was really great that, upon our arrival, there were volunteers from your organization waiting in the lobby who checked us in, escorted us to the auditorium, explained a bit about the performance and helped us find seats. It made arriving in a busy and unfamiliar location stress-free.

Watching the kids dancing around while the music played was awesome. I didn't think our son, Ethan, would participate — he usually doesn't in crowded and noisy situations — but he stood up and took the hand of a volunteer and went! He ran around and was happy and smiling the whole time!

My husband and I have NEVER been able to go to an event and sit back and watch Ethan from afar like that. And there he was — participating and being himself and it was okay. Outings are usually filled with stress and trepidation (on my part) and often it's too hard for Ethan (like most recently when we went to a performance of “Frosty the Snowman” and had to leave the theater at intermission). So it was really something for us to watch him at yesterday's concert — my husband and I had tears in our eyes. And when it was over, Ethan looked at me and said, “happy!” That was really incredible. Thank you so much for this experience. It was truly a gift.

Susan Eisenberg, mother of Ethan, age 7
Northport, New York

Thank you and your friends for a wonderful concert experience for my son Jason. He was very happy and inspired. Jason enjoyed interacting with the musician. He made an instrument by placing rice in a container and drummed on a lot of sound makers, after he returned from the concert.

As the mother of a child with disability, I truly appreciate the insight, determination, compassion and vision you have to enrich the lives of children with disabilities. I wish that more people could understand the sensory challenge autistic children may face, appreciate their efforts to fit into our world and kindly provide gentler environment for them as Music for Autism does.

Please accept our sincere appreciation for you, your organization and all the volunteers. Thank you.

Winnie Li, mother of Jason, age 9
Chappaqua, New York

Thank you so much for your lovely event today. The room was filled with a tremendous amount of warmth and love. Jake had a good time, especially with the musical instruments. Please let us know when your next concert is so we can come again.

Jen Brown, mother of Jake, age 5
New York, New York

Thank you very much for a special music experience for Danny! We were delighted to be a part of your first concert in NYC. My husband and I were very impressed with the concert. We can certainly appreciate the time, expertise and dedication that went into this program. All the adults and children seemed very happy to engage in this musical adventure and you could feel the joy in the room! Everyone was involved in their own way! It was an amazing experience for us. The people running it were so welcoming and we immediately felt comfortable… Both musicians were talented and kind to the individuals with autism. It is hard to find places that welcome children with disabilities and we felt lucky to participate in an appropriate and respectful activity such as yours. There is such a need for these type of programs. I do hope you continue this important work!

Susan Hershman, mother of Danny, age 15
New York, New York

This is the first time I can say we felt truly welcome at a musical concert or anywhere for that matter! Not once did I have to explain my son's behavior… How relaxing! Can't wait for the next one!

Sharon Rozansky, mother of Matthew, age 9
New York, New York

Ben absolutely adores the entire concert experience. His expression is pure joy, singing makes his language more fluid, and the he can carry a tune to boot! Coming into the city from Westchester for these concerts makes the experience twice as special. This amazing music performed in such a friendly format is a gift to our beautiful kids…we are very grateful for all that you do.

Deb Fischer, mother of Ben, age 8
Pleasantville, New York

I had the great pleasure of bringing my son Connor to the concert at the Help Group in Los Angeles on Sunday. I was astounded and thrilled at how the children were moved by the music and how I was moved by the spirit of acceptance. As a parent of a child with Autism, I am used to being on guard for behaviors which require me to remove Connor from situations. At the Music for Autism concert, I didn't have to do this…Connor was allowed, encouraged even to express himself and I was able to relax at a public event for the first time in 5 years. Thank you for that.

Kathleen Kitts, mother of Connor, age 6
Los Angeles, California

Your Sunday concert at JCC Manhattan was fantastic! The cast members from Jersey Boys were phenomenal, the songs were wonderful, my son had such a great time, and it was the very best hour of my entire winter.

Sharon, mother of Jonathan, age 4
New York, New York

We attended today, and the concert was the best thing we have done with our boys ever! Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Heather Tyler, mother of Ben, age 5
Nashua, New Hampshire

We had the best time. What an amazing opportunity for our families to be able to dance and sing together!

Sheri Clyde, mother of Jackson, age 10
Boston, Massachusetts

Musicians' Comments:

I just wanted to thank you so much for allowing my La Familia Sextet to share our music with your children and their families today at Music for Autism’s first bilingual concert in Brooklyn. I can’t tell you how fulfilled we all felt afterwards; it was just wonderful! It really is a blessing to do what we do with the gifts we’ve received, and I can’t think of a better way of paying those blessings forward than by coming together to do things like we did today. It’s any musician’s joy to give the gift of music to a child, and I can’t thank you enough for giving us that opportunity today.

Willie Martinez
from La Familia Sextet

My first Music for Autism experience brought together the best warm & fuzzy group of people ever! The audience exuded so much warmth and kindness--I felt like I was with family and there was such a great energy in the room! I don’t know who enjoyed them trying out my Electric Slugger fiddle more--me or them!

One of my favorite moments was when a participant played fiddle sticks on my Electric Slugger while I fiddled. All the while, he kept making comments like “wow...this is so cool...oooh...”--like he was overcome with being a partner in the music making. After a minute of going to town, his playing just transformed--he magically settled into an easeful groove, adjusting to a relaxed hold of the sticks as he just let himself become one with the musical experience, floating along from that moment all the way to the end. His reaction to being in the music made it transformational for me!

Glenn Donnellan,
Violinist of The National Symphony Orchestra

We count our Music for Autism performance as one of our most meaningful and fun! To see the light in the children’s eyes and the smiles across their faces was a beautiful sight. It was amazing to watch families connect and children engage in response to the power of music. There was so much energy in the room that the audience broke into a conga line several times! We were honored to share our music and love with all of the special families that attended.

Quattro,
2013 Latin Grammy Nominee

The Pippin Music for Autism concert was truly a magical experience, and I loved every second. It opened my eyes to so many things not only about autism but about myself. I’m so grateful for the opportunity.

Gabrielle McClinton,
who currently understudies The Leading Player in Broadway’s Pippin

I was apprehensive in advance of playing the Music for Autism Kennedy String Quartet Concert at the Ivymount School. I wondered whether we'd be distracted or our program disrupted by sounds and movements from the audience. On the contrary, I found the participants' physical involvement and uninhibited enjoyment—swaying, dancing, beaming—quite moving. I came home and told my family I'd just played the most meaningful concert I'd done in many years.

Jane Stewart,
Violinist of The National Symphony Orchestra

Playing at a Music for Autism concert was one of the best, most rewarding things I've ever done.

Sonny Paladino
Associate Music Director of Broadway's Pippin

Teachers' Comments:

It was so good to be there to see our students offered a performance of such high quality. It's what they deserve – only the best – and I wish they always had it as they did today. …students dancing in their seats, smiling, nodding, rocking, caught up in the rhythm and the spirit. I never imagined that such a large and diverse group would be so quiet, but they were enchanted. I'm already looking forward to next year and any other concerts you may be doing before then. Thank you for offering us all such a privilege.

Richard Brooks,
Advanced Practitioner of the Autism Service,
Chinnor Special Education Units, Oxfordshire