December 5, 2011
By Kymberly Grosso, Autism in Real Life
The following post is an excerpt from A Conversation with James Durbin: his New Album, Music and Autism originally published in the Autism in Real Life blog:
James Durbin, who stood out as an exceptional singer during American Idol, Season 10, brought fresh sounds and performances to America. James consistently challenged the status quo with moving rock and metal tunes. Early in the competition, fans found out that James also has Tourettes and Aspergers Syndromes. Naturally, parents like me and kids like my son, who also has Aspergers, cheered for him throughout the competition. Not only did James shake up the show with his real, in your face emotional performances, he became an instant role model to many kids like my son ,who would watch him on TV and say, "He is like me, and he is amazing!"
With American Idol behind him, James Durbin has once again proved his tenacity and talent as heard in his new album, Memories Of A Beautiful Disaster. He has said the album is a reflection of the struggles in his life and a celebration of his recent success. Perhaps one of the most moving songs on the album, is Screaming, which many people can relate to, as it was written about Jame's own experience with bullying and how he handled it. There are so many powerful songs on the album, and another one of my favorites is Stand Up, which is an upbeat, rocking, "get up on your feet" song. In fact, the NFL added Stand Up to its game day music line up which is sure to make fans stand and cheer.
Recently, I had the opportunity to interview James about his new album, music, his struggles with bullying and his take on autism. He was incredibly gracious, well spoken and reminded me again of the incredible possibilities that are out there for our kids. While I could have written around the interview and provided bits and pieces, I thought it would be best to post the interview in its entirety.
There is a reason he is a role model. He experienced adversity yet he prevails with exceptional music and riveting, live performances. During the interview, James was open and honest about his experiences growing up with Autism and Tourettes, bullying, and how these experiences are reflected in his music. As a parent who loves stories of hope and success, I am so appreciative that James is significantly contributing to American music as well as sharing his perspectives about autism.
A Conversation with James Durbin:
GROSSO: When it comes to the Asperger's, is there anything about having Asperger's that you feel has really helped with your career? Does it affect your music? I know my son says sometimes it increases his focus and he's also really good at memorization. So I was wondering if that helps you with lyrics and things like that?
DURBIN: Definitely. I mean one of the things about having Asperger's is that...I think it's helped me be really involved with what I like. I see this with a lot of autism cases and kids with autism...what they like, they're a genius at it. They know everything about it and I feel like I know everything that my voice can do. More of the other things I've always been into is pro wrestling, and I can talk about wrestling for hours and hours and I don't know. Is your son like that?
GROSSO: Yes, he is like that. He can talk about video games for hours. It definitely increases his focus when it's something he likes.
DURBIN: People with art and drawing and anything with wrestling...I used to draw wrestlers and make collages of wrestlers and cutout pictures. What it was like, it was just all wrestling all the time. I would cut up magazines and paper them and glue them or staple them together, just to have that artistic expression...everything had to be wrestling all the time growing up.
GROSSO: Is there anything about the Asperger's that maybe made things more difficult for you in your career as you've been thrust into the spotlight and having to talk with people all the time?
DURBIN: Yeah. I definitely think that Asperger's there definitely was. Sometimes I still have slip-ups because one of the things with Asperger's -- you could say that I don't really have a filter and things will come out of my mouth, and I won't think about them before I say that and I don't think about the consequences of what I say before I say it.
GROSSO: Are there any sensory issues you've needed to adjust to when you're on stage or singing, like the lights or the noise?
DURBIN: I've always had a hard time with washing my hair, feeling like the wetness in my hands, the squeaky sound. I can't stand when my shoes are wet and I have to walk on like a plastic that makes it make a squeak sound...or like getting in the car with wet shoes and having the heaters on...the gas pedal and everything. It's just like, ugh.
There's more! Read the rest of the story here.
Topics:Living with Autism
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