Having Autism: Working with Autism Speaks and My Musical Journey

This post is by Hannah who works as an intern for Autism Speaks New England Chapter. This post is part of an initiative on our site called “In Our Own Words: Living on the Spectrum,” which highlights the experiences of individuals with autism from their perspectives. Have a story you want to share for the series? Email us at InOurOwnWords@Autismspeaks.org.

At Autism Speaks I write journalism pieces, blogs, and assist with other projects around the office. I like working at Autism Speaks because I have autism, and I’m interested in helping other people with autism and advocating for them.

Music is a big part of my life and has always been an outlet for me. I first became interested in music in the 5th and 6th grades. My mom had a Broadway kid’s soundtrack and we would always listen to it in the car whenever we would travel to my relative’s houses. When I first started discovering music on my own, I started listening to Celine Dion in the 5th grade; I bought her Let’s Talk about Love CD and that was one of the first CDs I ever bought. Then, in junior high I got into R&B.

Now I still enjoy listening to lots of R&B. R&B is my favorite genre of music because I feel that a real singer puts all their body and emotion into the music they sing and that’s how R&B singers sing. I also like the instrumentals and sounds used on R&B tracks as well as the bluesy feel of some of the songs. I also listen to the Titanic soundtrack a lot.  I like the Titanic soundtrack because I think that the woman, Sissel Kyrkjebø, who sings on the soundtrack, has a relaxing voice.

I like listening to music because it relaxes me and can put me in any sort of mood depending on the type of music. Depending on the genre of music, I can feel relaxed, calm, or energetic.

I have trouble relaxing sometimes because I have OCD and even though I take medications for it, it still makes me uptight and nervous. I often have trouble getting to sleep, and listening to calming music makes me feel sleepy. I find it helpful to listen to music without lyrics before bed and at work. Music without lyrics is relaxing because lyrics can keep you up and do not help you get to sleep.

At work I like to listen to Christina Aguilera, Debelah Morgan, Jill Scott, Kelly Price, Jesse Powell, Tamia, Carl Thomas, Musiq Soulchild and many other R&B singers. The music by these artists helps put me in a good mood and makes the work go faster, especially if I am doing tasks I don’t like.

In day to day life, I use music to help me relax and escape from the “real world”. If a person’s voice is good enough it can create its own world and can provide an escape from the real world and your problems. Sometimes it’s nice to use music as an escape from whatever problems I have had in my life, whether it’s being picked on or having trouble in employment.

Music can be a powerful therapy tool for people with autism. Specifically, I believe it could help people with autism overcome obstacles with being bullied. Music can be a way to help express and get out your feelings about being in a bad situation, and if you express your feelings through music it can be a way to deal with the problem. There were several times when I was bullied in school and listening to music helped me. When I was younger there were these girls who were picking on me in the 5th grade and listening to Christina Aguilera’s album helped me through it. Music relates to bullying and autism because it can help people with autism by calming them and helping them relax or deal with any of the emotions, such as anger, that arise from bullying.  It could help them get out their feelings or express their emotions about being in certain situations if they are bullied for their autism.

Music has impacted my life in a great way and I hope that by sharing this with you it can similarly impact yours.

Want to write a blog for our “In Our Own Words: Living on the Spectrum,” series? Email us at InOurOwnWords@Autismspeaks.org.