Autism Speaks defines Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and Autism as both general terms for a group of complex disorders of brain development. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors.
I have a special affinity toward autism. It is very personal to me as my oldest child was, years ago, diagnosed as having ASD. She no longer receives any services through the school district as cognitively/academically, she is extremely bright and communicative. But a byproduct, if you will, for her is that she has social skill delays. It is difficult for her to maintain or initiate conversation. She does not seem to have the innate ability or knowledge or awareness of the need to actively participate in conversation and social interaction in order to develop and nurture friendships, relationships. And yet, she is, sometimes painfully aware, of something lacking in her life such as friendships, bonds, the sense of inclusion. She sometimes appears to respond inappropriately to situations and conversations. Often, this can be interpreted by the uneducated as being disinterested, cold, snooty, uncaring. And yet, my child is luckier than many on the Spectrum. She can communicate. She has a full grasp of language and a very large vocabulary. Her interests very diverse. She is like a sponge and retains information almost photographically. It would seem to the uneducated that was is missing, though, is a connection that we all take for granted to emotion and feelings in an appropriate manner. Yet, it is there. Unable to extend itself in typical and acceptable ways with the appropriate language and actions. The desire to be included, part of something, still exists. She is loving and warmhearted and sensitive. But these traits often have a difficult time being expressed in such a way that they can be discerned by others, especially those unfamiliar with the peculiarities of children on the Spectrum.
I also have an immense love and respect for country music. Personally, it has allowed me to express myself thru the trials and tribulations and loves and joys I experience in my life. It has helped me to relate to other people and situations in ways that I might not have. It has sustained me, lifted me as well has provided me with many laughs, smiles, new friends and quite a few wild and crazy times!
And now, with the thoughtful and beautiful song We’ll Get By by singer/songwriter Johnny Orr my passions have been fused together to give my child a voice. The release of this captivating We’ll Get By, acoustically performed, coincides with Autism Awareness Month (April). It is an inspiring song written by Orr for his friend, Candi Spitz (now the Vice-President of Blooming with Autism), whose twin boys have Autism. It serves to educate people while bringing awareness to and promoting understanding and tolerance of an often misunderstood diagnosis that, according to recent statistics, afflicts 1 in 68 children. It is a inspiring testament to Johnny Orr that he has the unique ability to write this song from an observer’s perspective while painting a picture that makes Autism more approachable to the general public. Autism runs the gamut in the way it manifests itself. My child is very fortunate that she is not locked up inside herself and that she is communicative. For those who lack communicative skills in addition to all the other quirks and behaviors and delays associated with this diagnosis, the lyrics to We’ll Get By clearly represent a small piece of the world they live in. The autism community is desperately in need of being better understood with compassion and empathy. And songs like We’ll Get By are one way to make it happen.
Maybe I don’t speak too well, but I’m coming outta my shell
And I like playing by myself if you can’t tell
I like to go to school, yeah I’m a miracle, and I’m glad to be alive
If you’ll wait patiently, well then eventually,
I will understand the words that you’re saying to me My Autism, is like a prison, that I’m in
“We’ll Get By (The Autism Song)” is from Orr’s forthcoming EP, DOWN SOUTH (John & John Entertainment) available HERE.