The Southwell Care project ...
I have autism as I am diagnosed with Asperger syndrome. I got my diagnosis when I was 7 years old and it generally involves high levels of stress and anxiety within social/communicative situations. I was expelled from my original primary school after I was diagnosed, and I was selective mute and socially isolated for a lot of my teenage life and only started socialising properly when I went to university in 2009.
I am a member of Reach http://www.reachuk.org/ Reach is the new name for Southwell Care Project. Who are a registered charity that supports over 150 adults with learning disabilities in Nottinghamshire. They run learning courses, social activities and projects to help people get the life they want in their own community.
I feel that my chosen profession as a musician is an effective way of helping me communicate with others and receive the attention that I never got when I was younger. I do feel I am able to relate to others who are disabled and I have found that many people do find me approachable and have taken to me very well.
I began working as a musician shortly after leaving university. Like many others, I love music and I feel a sense of motivation and confidence when I perform in front of an audience (the bigger the audience, the better), and it helps me to take my mind off of things that are troubling me. Being disabled myself also allows me to understand other people with difficulties more and I will always try and encourage everybody to join in regardless of their physical or mental health.
Many of my sessions to date have been aimed towards people with disabilities and so far it has been a very positive experience. Music of various genres, whether it is in the form of disco, karaoke or live singing, has encouraged many people to start interacting with the rest of the group, when these people may at first have just sat at the back and been quiet. This has been especially significant when people have attended more than one of my events and have gotten to know me.
Karaoke sessions have helped people to interact with not only the music but also myself and the audience, even if they do not actually sing into the microphone (whether due to speech impediments or out of shyness). In these situations I think the main benefit is that people are interacting and having fun and the advantage of karaoke is that it's not all about people being good at singing, but about being brave enough to take the microphone and stand up in front of an audience.
Receiving attention from an audience is also very motivating for many people even if it is nerve-racking at first, as I have learnt from my own experiences as well as encountering those of other people. I feel that my ability to sing a wide range of songs may also be advantageous during karaoke sessions as I may be able help people out if they are struggling with a song and getting anxious. Of course, this will only be if the singer is happy for me to do so, as I do understand some people want the attention without any interference.
I will always try and be as friendly and amiable as possible when I deliver my act, and will always work in a manner that tells the audience that I am approachable as a person. I would never look down on anybody for having a particular disability of simply being 'different'. I want to work with a community of people who love music and treat them as equals and always try and include everybody in the activity.
People have always enjoyed themselves and I find that they take to me quite rapidly and are able to relate to me as much as I can relate to them, and many have expressed in one form or another that I am not like the average DJ.