In just the past two weeks, news stories have caught the world’s attention with this shared message: music reaches autistic kids. Parentology was greatly inspired by the journeys of these two families.
We had an #oldtownroad miracle at my house. My son Daniel has #autism and doesn’t talk. We caught him humming the @LilNasX and @billyraycyrus tune the other day. Then Bless God, my baby started singing the song on his own. His therapists have started to use it in his sessions!
Thus read a Twitter post from Sheletta Brundidge (@TwoHauteMamas1) on June 4. Brundidge, who completing household chores when she overheard Daniel signing, tweeted she got her son’s hair wet from crying joyful tears. Since then, Daniel’s love for the Lil Nas X and Billy Ray Cyrus song Old Town Road, and the video of Daniel singing the ditty, has gone viral.
We had an #oldtownroad miracle at my house. My son Daniel has #autism and doesn’t talk. We caught him humming the @LilNasX and @billyraycyrus tune the other day. Then Bless God, my baby started singing the song on his own. His therapists have started to use it in his sessions! pic.twitter.com/vtCNWeg6ax— Sheletta Brundidge (@TwoHauteMamas1) June 4, 2019
The Minnesota-based Brundidges are a family of four children, three of whom live with autism. All the kids enjoy singing along to music, especially Old Town Road.
Turns out, music often strikes a chord for those living with autism.
“Many people with autism (verbal and non-verbal alike) enjoy music, and some people with autism have special talents for music, whether it is having a strong ability to pick up on and play music or the ability to sing with perfect or near-perfect pitch,” Autism Speaks Chief Science Officer Thomas Frazier, Ph.D. relayed to Parentology. “Music is engaging to many people with autism and, in some cases, individuals with autism have special talents that manifest as the ability to understand, play or sing music at a very high level.”
Another story about music’s impact on someone living with autism appeared during a segment on last night’s episode of CBS’ 60 Minutes. The profile featured Jaap van Zweden, conductor of The New York Philharmonic. Van Zweden and his wife Aaltje have four children, including 29-year-old Daniel, who has autism.
When Daniel was a child, he was uncommunicative, until the van Zwedens left out a word while singing a song. In the episode, van Zweden recalls, “We would always sing for him children’s songs and by accident we forgot one word and he got all excited. And we thought ‘oh maybe he’s understanding actually what we are saying.'”
It was through the use of children’s songs that Daniel began to speak. Today, he speaks in both Dutch and English.
Excited to share the impact of music with other people dealing with autism, the van Zweden’s established The Papageno Foundation in 1997, which offers arts and music therapy. In 2016, The Papageno House was opened as a safe residence providing security and autonomy for young adults with autism. Additionally, it offers culinary classes that can serve as training for those residents looking to enter the workforce. Also on tap, of course, art and music.
Sheletta Brundidge’s Twitter page (@TwoHauteMamas1)
Autism Speaks Chief Science Officer Thomas Frazier, Ph.D.
CBS News/60 Minutes: How a Conductor Used Music to Reach His Son with Autism