We are the ASD Band; all our musicians are autistic and we write and record original songs. Here’s our message.
ASD stands for Autism Spectrum Disorder. We are ASD Band (pictured above), and all of the band members are autistic.
Although autism might make some aspects of life difficult for us, we still possess skills and abilities in areas we are passionate about.
As musicians on the Spectrum, autism may be disabling for us in social settings, but it doesn’t hinder us when it comes to making music.
Our band consists of four members: Rawan Tuffaha (lead singer), Jackson D. Begley (guitarist/singer), Ron Adea (pianist) and Spenser Murray (drummer).
Our message to the world is that we are different but not less, and that we are living proof that autism cannot stop us from pursuing our dreams.
My message to autistic and neurodivergent people is to keep pursuing the things that make you happy; whether that is trainspotting, bird photography, graphic design, music or more.
Ignore the Naysayers
It is so important to ignore discouraging voices. For instance, my family was told that I would never be able to speak or learn music, and that they were wasting their time and money.
Yet, here I am. All of my fellow bandmates have their own stories to tell which are almost similar to my case, and if any of our families had believed that we did not have the potential to achieve, then they would have given up on us.
Without their encouragement, the band would never have existed.
The band started on Autism Awareness Day in 2019, when Jake’s House launched their “Give a Little Bit” campaign, where we joined Roger Hodgson (Supertramp) on stage.
Our manager, Andrew Simon (band founder), saw the potential for this band after seeing our performance, which resulted in him volunteering to become our manager.
During the pandemic, we began writing and recording original songs, and we were privileged to work with Maury LaFoy, our musical director who also produced our first EP, “Fireflies.”
Although each band member has a different genre of interest in music, we showcase a myriad of styles together, and we are very versatile.
A Little of Everything
In our album, we have a little bit of rap, rock, classical, pop and jazz. Everyone in this band contributed with their own ideas and talents.
Currently, the band has more experience than when we first started, and we have so many songs that we are looking forward to releasing; we hope that it will happen soon.
Our biggest dream is to be adopted by an agency that will unleash our talent and spread our message.
Our dreams and goals lie with raising more awareness about overcoming the stigma of autism, and that if we can do it, others can too!
That is why we are very fortunate to take part in the documentary, “OKAY! (The ASD Band Film),” which will be featured at the ReelAbilities Film Festival: New York.
The documentary is a true story about us in our daily lives, both inside and outside of rehearsals and gigs.
The documentary showcases our stories and various points of view as people on the Spectrum, and how we overcame our own issues.
Mark Bone (director) enabled us to be ourselves, without any interference from his part.
The film crew captured us partaking in our favorite hobbies; whether it was applying makeup, taking a walk, going for a swim or spending time with our families.
It was really fun to be able to share a part of our lives, but also share our talents.
Our band’s potential is unlimited, and we give all our thanks to Jake’s House charity for giving us this magnanimous opportunity.
Sometimes people with autism cannot communicate and read social cues. In the documentary, each band member speaks about an obstacle we have faced in our lives. For example:
- Spenser had some issues when he was young with maintaining friendships.
- Jackson sometimes has been prone to overthinking regarding how to respond in public.
- Ron wants to be independent, and now his family is working towards achieving this goal.
- As for me, I was bullied in school, and I used to be naive and shy with regards to finding people whom I could trust.
Thankfully, this band found each other, and we are friends who treat one another with respect and honesty.
Message to Parents with Autistic Kids, and Adults on the Spectrum
I want to give a message to the families who have kids with ASD that they are not alone in their journey, and they should not feel hopeless.
They should always look to the future, and that they are doing the best they can to support, encourage and stand by their children’s side.
Our families did the same for us, and they all have been there, and we are here today as a living example that autism doesn’t mean the end of the world.
It takes a village to raise an autistic child, and we need support, love and care from everyone around us.
As for adults on the Spectrum, I can say that without a doubt, it’s never too late to learn something new, and to pursue your passion.
Finally, according to Dr. Kerry Magro, “Autism cannot define me, and only I can define Autism,” is the right thing to say.
Our fate will be written in the stars by none other than ourselves.
The ReelAbilities Film Festival takes place on April 27. ReelAbilities strives to include all individuals. All films are presented with open captions and available audio description, and all venues are accessible to mobility devices.