This guest post is by Danika, a mother of four, about a special experience with her son Andrew who is on the autism spectrum.
My son Andrew has autism and he is quite obsessed with the band Imagine Dragons and the Taiko drum they use in their live performances. There is something about their rhythm and backbeats combined with a great melody that just soothes his soul. When we found out that Imagine Dragons was coming to Utah, we knew immediately we had to get Andrew there. We ended up buying tickets and were so excited when we shared the news with him.
As the concert grew closer, I decided to write on the Imagine Dragons' Facebook fan page. I told them about how Andrew plays their songs any time he craves organization, including during math class and when writing in English. I wrote that every time he would talk about the Taiko drum, we silently smiled to ourselves thinking how excited he would be for the concert. Andrew had even decided that we were getting him the drum for Christmas. For him, no was not an option.
Imagine my surprise when I got a private Facebook message saying that autism awareness was an issue close to the band's heart and they would really like to meet Andrew! It was so hard to keep the secret but we did it.
When October 25th rolled around, we finally told Andrew the plan. You can only imagine the pacing that went on for the next few hours until we arrived. I had expected this to be about publicity. You know, that "band is nice to kid with autism" kind of thing. I was so surprised when we arrived to just see the band, the sound crew and us. I was the only one with a camera. We felt like we were at a private concert! Andrew’s normal state in public tends to be panic, sweat, fast heartbeat and darting eyes, but he was calm now. He was just completely absorbing the music. After the sound check, the lead singer, Dan, asked Andrew if he'd like to come up and play the Taiko.
It took at least five times of him telling Andrew to come on up before his feet would move and thank heaven for Dan's understanding. We were all welcomed on stage and the band showed us how to play the Taiko. Little by little, the smile would creep out on Andrew's face. When it was my daughter Ana's turn to play, she went after the drum so fiercely with all of her 5-year-old strength that the band pulled out cell phones and took video. It's one of Andrew's favorite pictures because he loves to see people smiling and laughing. I hadn't seen him smile so big in public for years! As we left, we felt like we were leaving old friends. Little Ana tells everyone about her buddy Dan and how he's her best friend. What a great group of down to earth people who just wanted to help a kid who needed it.
I was worried about the concert being too much for him and thought with the flashing lights and huge noise that we would be out in the hallway. But we had a miracle moment. To my surprise, not only did he stay in his seat for the whole concert but when Dan started singing, "I'm never changing who I am," Andrew started singing as well. Andrew has a great voice and a steady rhythm inside but we hadn't heard it for six years since he regressed. He sang all the other songs to the last word and he smiled!
He smiled big and he smiled for a long time. I wish I had a picture for those moments, but it's okay because they're sealed in my mind forever.
Thanks to a great group of people who cared about a kid who loved their beats. Thank you for the smiles!