[Note: This article is for archive purposes in Autistic History. It’s to illustrate the the voices heard during this era. It’s to show how the Wrights, co-founders of Autism Speaks, and pals used their privilege purposefully to drown out the voices of the Autistic community and others. Also how they used Autistic people as a prop.]
Autistic man expresses himself with the piano
Music may improve social skills for people with condition
WEST MILFORD, N.J. – Paul DeSavino’s mother grew increasingly nervous as she watched her son sit at a piano during one of his first public performances last year. He wasn’t playing.
Minutes passed and then DeSavino, diagnosed with autism more than three decades ago as a child, played the piece perfectly.
“After the performance I said ’Paul, it was so wonderful but why did you wait so long?”’ Marlene DeSavino recalled. “And he said, ’Mom, don’t you remember? You told me to take my time, to concentrate, to look ahead.”’
For his family, who once was told DeSavino would eventually have to be placed in an institution, those early performances represented an opportunity.
Music offers children and adults with autism a way to express themselves, said Cindy Edgerton, co-director of the music therapy clinical services at Michigan State University. For many, it can improve language and social interaction skills, she said.
Some, like DeSavino, have what musical experts call perfect pitch. Yet the difficulty communicating that accompanies autism can make musical instruction a challenge.
“We can’t discuss something in a way that I would with another student,” said Cosmo Buono, DeSavino’s instructor. “That I would say really is the biggest issue — I need to make sure that the concept has been understood and once that occurs, then there’s no other issue at all.”
Interest in music came early
DeSavino, 34, will perform a 30-minute recital before a special benefit performance at the State Repertory Opera of New Jersey on April 24. The performance will raise money for autism research.
It marks another step in the journey DeSavino and his family have taken since he first began withdrawing as a toddler. His interest in music came early, but the ability to channel that into studying classical music didn’t happen for decades.
“His sister used to start singing a song and he would say ’no, no, no’ and he’d start singing the song again but in a different key and we realized, ’Wow, why was he doing that?’ and it would be the key that he had heard the song in,” his mother remembered. “So he had heard it, remembered the sound of that key and corrected his sister and sung it in the right key.”
By the time he turned 5, DeSavino would sometimes sit at the piano, only to run away if anyone came near him. About seven years ago, his mother decided he might be ready for formal lessons.
At first she feared he might lose interest in piano and get frustrated.
“Because of his love of music, he has continued, and he’s a bit of a perfectionist, so the teacher was able to apply enough pressure but not too much so that it wouldn’t frustrate him,” she said.
DeSavino has performed twice at a Carnegie Hall recital hall with other students from the music conservatory where he studies.
“I feel OK about it,” DeSavino said last month, days before he played a piece by Beethoven in front of hundreds of people. “I hope things go well.”
Making people smile
Polite and articulate, DeSavino sometimes struggles to answer direct questions; his mother says he often thinks of more than one answer and doesn’t want to say the wrong one. But at the piano, there aren’t any “I don’t knows.”
“More and more he’s able to express himself; that’s why I think that music is a good way because that’s an easy thing,” his mother said. “Now he’s unable to verbalize that, but clearly when you see him after he performs, you see that he is clearly happy that he has made people smile.”
“When you play for people, how does that make you feel?” she asks him.
“Nervous. Excited,” he said. And why?
“Because I would be too famous,” he says to laughter from family and friends at the group home run by the National Institute for People with Disabilities of New Jersey, where he lives.
Marlene DeSavino said it’s up to her son to decide whether to continue performing in public.
“I want him to continue to have a love of music, whatever he wants to do with it — it’s for him. It’s for him to enjoy any way he wants to.”
She added: “It’s been a lifetime to get him to where he is. To have this happen, it’s a wonderfully rewarding thing for a parent to see.”
Autistic people have fought the inclusion of ABA in therapy for us since before Autism Speaks, and other non-Autistic-led autism organizations, started lobbying legislation to get it covered by insurances and Medicaid.
ABA is a myth originally sold to parents that it would keep their Autistic child out of an institution. Today, parents are told that with early intervention therapy their child will either be less Autistic or no longer Autistic by elementary school, and can be mainstreamed in typical education classes. ABA is very expensive to pay out of pocket. Essentially, Autism Speaks has justified the big price tag up front will offset the overall burden on resources for an Autistic’s lifetime. The recommendation for this therapy is 40 hours a week for children and toddlers.
The original study that showed the success rate of ABA to be at 50% has never been replicated. In fact, the study of ABA by United States Department of Defense was denounced as a failure. Not just once, but multiple times. Simply stated: ABA doesn’t work. In study after repeated study: ABA (conversion therapy) doesn’t work.
What more recent studies do show: Autistics who experienced ABA therapy are at high risk to develop PTSD and other lifelong trauma-related conditions. Historically, the autism organizations promoting ABA as a cure or solution have silenced Autistic advocates’ opposition. ABA is also known as gay conversion therapy.
The ‘cure’ for Autistics not born yet is the prevention of birth.
The ‘cure’ is a choice to terminate a pregnancy based on ‘autism risk.’ The cure is abortion. This is the same ‘cure’ society has for Down Syndrome.
This is eugenics 2021. Instead of killing Autistics and disabled children in gas chambers or ‘mercy killings’ like in Aktion T4, it’ll happen at the doctor’s office, quietly, one Autistic baby at a time. Different approaches yes, but still eugenics and the extinction of an entire minority group of people.
Fact: You can’t cure Autistics from being Autistic.
Fact: You can’t recover an Autistic from being Autistic.
Fact: You can groom an Autistic to mask and hide their traits. Somewhat. … however, this comes at the expense of the Autistic child, promotes Autistic Burnout (this should not be confused with typical burnout, Autistic Burnout can kill Autistics), and places the Autistic child at high risk for PTSD and other lifelong trauma-related conditions.
[Note: Autism is NOT a disease, but a neurodevelopmental difference and disability.]
Fact: Vaccines Do Not Cause Autism.