“What we’re doing is great because it sheds light on the stigma that comes with mental health issues. This concert will give people like me hope and inspiration and help show the world there’s so much more to us than a label …” – Eli Young
Two months ago I had no idea what Autism meant other than the fact that it was a mental health issue.
A friend of mine Rob Laidlaw gave me a call and asked if I would help with an event he and colleagues were creating.
When I found out what the event was for, I was happy to help but again I knew very little about what Autism was and how it effects the lives of those living with it and their families.
Based on the facts from Autism Speaks Canada’s website here is what I found out:
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates autism’s prevalence as 1 in 68 children in the United States. This includes 1 in 42 boys and 1 in 189 girls.
- An estimated 50,000 teens with autism become adults – and lose school-based autism services – each year.
- Around one third of people with autism remain nonverbal.
- Around one third of people with autism have an intellectual disability.
- Certain medical and mental health issues frequently accompany autism. They include gastrointestinal (GI) disorders, seizures, sleep disturbances, attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety and phobias.
Check out this great video about Autism here.
As someone who has been on this project since it’s creation … I’ve come to realize just how hard it must be for those with Autism and especially those who aren’t diagnosed with it yet or have a much later diagnosis like Eli Young – the inspiration behind the concert.
Eli is a 27 year old drummer and writer diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder not even a year ago (Spring 2017). For years he was greatly misunderstood and misdiagnosed. He had a tough time and experienced severe bullying, assault and robbery and other crimes committed by those who noted his vulnerability and big heart to use to their advantage.
Eli found himself homeless at one point but through the support of his father and community, he was able to receive a diagnosis and was able to obtain assisted living housing.
Eli has accomplished some amazing things in his life, he has played in 5 bands touring across the country and gained the attention of some major music industry figures.
Despite all of his obstacles, Eli refused to give up and he has fought to live the best possible life despite the trauma he has suffered through.
Eli’s father Paul Young has been his biggest supporter …
“The challenges of Autism Spectrum Disorder in Eli’s case were much more difficult to detect. His struggles with what what neurotypical people consider normal were hidden and mostly misinterpreted.”
After the age of 10, the difficulties became more pronounced and frustrating for Eli and those around him. Starting drum lessons drew out exceptional talent and discipline, however Eli’s drumming teacher almost gave up on teaching him due to the communication problems. Eli’s secondary schooling was frustrating they offered very little support to Eli and as Eli grew into a teenager and young adult he encountered very difficult life circumstances. Eli has suffered through bullying, death threats, robbers, beatings, and countless experiences of betrayal and disappointment. Despite the setbacks in his life, Eli and I have always maintained a strong relationship. Together, we had hope and a strong belief that Eli could live a good life. An amazing musician that he is, Eli was only left with sticks and a drum pad instead of drums and other equipment.
If I could offer any advice to parents out there who have a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder … never lose hope. Recognize that there are always possibilities in every child and adults life. Love your child unconditionally. There are some amazing organizations that can help you out such as CLASS, Autism Speaks Canada, Community Connections and professionals who specialize in developmental issues. It’s a hard and long fight but the victory is amazing!
Paul met Rob during an event they worked together on that Eli’s band was playing at. He was impressed with Eli’s skills and attitude and wanted to help” …
“I met Eli through Paul 10 years ago and we’ve talked about working together ever since”, says Rob Laidlaw.
I personally have a strong connection to this cause because of my son who works in the field serving children with Autism.
I learned a lot from my son because he works closely with people with Autism Spectrum Disorder and it’s an issue that definitely requires more attention in our culture today.
We are hoping to create awareness through our benefit concert Artists Expression For Autism. I’m excited to be performing on stage with Eli at the event.
It’s birth comes from an organization called House of Teams. The CEO/Founder Sandra recognizes the need for more awareness and has put in a lot of effort to make this event happen.”
Says Sandra, “House of Teams is a company that was founded by myself and two colleagues. Our mission is to bring something different to our current social interactiveways. We want people to put their phones away for at least an hour to experience a moment with those in the same room as them.
I asked Sandra how she got involved with the event Artists Expression For Autism.
“Well last July I contacted Autism Speaks Canada on behalf of House of Teams and let them know our intentions to become a corporate partner and help bring awareness to their cause.
With this event, we hope to help bring more awareness to the science and potential that exists ins ASD individual and helpsupport organizations that work for ASD individuals now and in the future.
We’ve decided for this event that we will help support two great organizations CLASS and Autism Speaks Canada.
To see Rob and Eli live on stage visit: artistsexpressionforautism.com. it takes please March 10, 2018 at the Gayety theatre in Collingwood.”
Says Rob Laidlaw, “I’m excited for this show. It’s for two great organizations and features performances from myself, Gord deppe from the Spoons and Flock of Seagulls, Gary Brown from the Tenants, Barbara Lynn Doran, FunCam, CIA comedy Club, comedian Bob Kovan and the rising star Sofia Blu who has been working with the same people as Bruno Mars and Christina Aguilera. It’s going to be a great night full of music and laughter, silent auctions and it’s all for an amazing cause.”
For more information about Artists Expression For Autism or to purchase tickets visit: artistsexpressionforautism.com