To anyone who’s ever cared to read the About Us section of this site, you would know that part of the reason why I made this site was for my son Paolo – who loves indie music, as well as surfing on the net. Another cool thing about him is that he’s autistic. When I say cool, I don’t mean to take autism lightly here – believe me, we’ve had our ups and downs with his condition, but to borrow Dr. Temple Grandin‘s words (who’s a famous autistic person herself), it’s also a gift.
Autism, to define it briefly, is a neurological developmental disorder that affects a person’s social and communication skills and, to a greater or lesser degree, their motor and language skills. It manifests differently from one individual or another – since it is a spectrum disorder, so some may be on the lower end of the spectrum (non-verbal, extreme difficulty with motor skills) or on the higher end (highly verbal, but still laking in the social and communication skills department).
In films, one of the more popular portrayals of an autistic person would be from the 1988 film "RainMan". Dustin Hoffman (who won an academy award for it), actually based it on the famous savant from Utah, Kim Peek. Not to generalize that all autistics are savants though – my son does struggle with grade 2 math – it’s a nice movie to see if you want to get an idea of how the autistic brain works. Also, if you haven’t seen it yet, another excellent film is the HBO movie based on Temple Grandin’s life – who which I was quite relieved to know, also had great struggles with math as my son did (as her science teacher would explain, she was more of a visual thinker, and math, like language, is quite abstract). To note, for new movies released about people with autism, I wouldn’t care too much for Adam (released last year) – it’s more of a date movie and a new version of Say Anything than anything else – only replace John Cusack with an autistic Hugh Dancy. A few minutes into it, my husband had to stop from watching, since it portrayed a man with Aspergers, struggling on his own, his parents dead and him just recently being sacked from his job – the nightmare of most parents with autistic children.
I’ll stop with the movies here, since it might be a list for a another time. So to move on to today’s List Addicts Fridays, and in honor of April 2 being World Autism Awareness Day, I present a couple of songs that Paolo has marked as his favorite at one time or another (apologies, if I’ve listed some songs in other lists on the site before, my son does love to go here and click on stuff). To note, some of these songs have made my ears bleed – as the non-neurotypical boy that he is, Paolo loves to listen to things over and over and over again –
1. Can You Tell by Ra Ra Riot
Ra Ra Riot is my son’s new obsession. It started with one play of the band’s ‘Too Too Too Fast’ on the car radio and has carried over to this other single from their Rhumb Line album. It’s kind of cute to know that he has consistent taste in music
2. The Owls Go by Architecture In Helsinki
I hope Architecture In Helsinki doesn’t hate me for posting a lot of their songs here. I can’t help it that my son loves them so much. This song took a while to become his favorite though. Interestingly, this was the first AIH song I fell in love with. I wonder though, if the band’s music has the same effect for other music loving autistic kids out there.
3. The Painter by I’m from Barcelona
This I’m from Barcelona song was the first song that I posted in the first blog post that I had for this site. I played this on the car a couple of weeks ago and got a request from the little man in the back seat to play it again. I guess he was in to mood too, because he started singing along to the chorus – and that is something special, since he usually doesn’t sing along to songs that often.
4. Astronauts and All by Foals
I think my son loves this Foals song because it kind of starts out like a video game. It was a short lived obsession though, but it was enough for him to give the song a nickname. To Paolo, this song is also known as the Astronaut song.
5. Get It Together by The Go! Team
Before this Go! Team song got popular in Little Big Planet, my son loved listening to this in the car because of the fact that the record scratch part tickled his ears. Actually, it amused him so much that he would laugh everytime he would hear it. I remember him looking like a crazy person just laughing his head off because of the song. Now, he has a new found love in the song, as he is now a Little Big Planet addict – Pokemon addiction still not replaced though, he makes Pokemon levels in LBP.
Not only is today World Autism Awareness Day, but April is also Autism Awareness Month. If you’d like to know more about Autism, you can check out my favorite local autism organization’s site ACT (http://www.actcommunity.net/) that has tons of info about autism, especially geared towards parents and caregivers.