the indie music database

since 2007

List Addicts Fridays: Five Songs for the Autistic Kid

by Cris



One of the reasons that inspired me to build this site (aside from my own obsession about music) is my son Paolo, who, up until he was five, couldn’t stand to have a radio on inside a room. As with all other autistic kids, his sensitivity to sights, sounds and everything else that’s sensory, is higher than your average kid. He would scream and cry like it was physically hurting his ears – terrified of just a simple little radio dishing out the tune of the day. I could never figure out what it was with the radio the room (or any other radio playing inside any room) but the TV didn’t bother him and neither did the car radio. In fact, the only consistent thing about Paolo is  he’s calm when he’s inside the car (well, except if we’re driving in Burnaby near Still Creek, and a murder of crows swooped down). The outside sights seemed to distract him and would oftentimes lull him to sleep.

I felt really bad when I realized how he got so agitated with music in the house – this meant that I couldn’t turn the speakers way up – since I couldn’t turn the stereo on at all, and I couldn’t play the drums when he was around. But what I was really most terrified at was that he wouldn’t be able to learn how to appreciate music the way that I did. My own son, how could he not be like me?

But on one fateful day, it happened. He started singing The Postal Service’s ‘Be Still My Heart’.

He sang it once, when I was taking him to daycare – it was on the car’s CD player. It didn’t matter that I had it on for three weeks straight (which might’ve brainwashed him to finally sing about it). But he sang, it meant that he liked it. My son was actually getting his own appreciation of music and I was delighted. Now, after two years, my son, who wouldn’t even stand to be in the same room with a radio playing, is now a six-year old who doesn’t seem to mind the noise and loves to occasionally play with my drum kit. Over the years he’s tagged a few songs as his favorites. Here are the most notable ones:

1. The Postal Service – Be Still My Heart |

The first song non-nursery rhyme song that he ever sang to. I guess it helps that the song actually has rhyming lyrics. The first time that he ever sang to it was actually the last time he sang to the song – but it doesn’t matter, it paved the way for other favorites that are more than awesome.

2. Architecture in Helsinki – Tiny Paintings |

This is the first of two songs that he absolutely loves from Architecture In Helsinki. He likes most of their songs and would ask for them by track number (I could never get him to remember song titles). ‘Number three‘, he would request. It became kind of routine in the morning when I’d take him to daycare. Then, he’d call it ‘Tiny Paints‘ because I’d kind of screw it up by playing the same track, with a different track position in a mix CD. He found the song funny, the tuba and the piston like sounds in the beginning, and would associate it with ducks. ‘Duckie!’ he’d say and would go about giggling like someone just ticked him. It was weird, getting tickled by a song – in an odd and cute way, that’s how he enjoyed Tiny Paintings.

3. Architecture in Helsinki – Wishbone |

This was the next track in the ‘In Case We Die’ album, right after ‘Tiny Paintings‘ and it didn’t take long before Paolo made it his favorite. It’s one of the few songs that he actually can name decently. He loved the name so much, he named my car ‘Wishbone‘. He found it amusing that the song slowed down at a point, like the song was going to sleep. Then it would pick up again – where he’d say ‘Wake up!’ on cue to the drums picking up the beat.

4. Au Revior Simone – The Disco Song |

This became a favorite at the time that I myself grew tired of listening to Architecture In Helsinki every single morning (he would request it right away, as soon as he gets in the car). I introduced a new mix CD for him and he latched on to this particular song (despite the use of children’s toys in a Psapp song I included in the CD, he didn’t like it as much). Now, when I ask him to request anything but Wishbone and Tiny Paints, he now says Disco Song. This is when I realized that he has a soft spot for electronic keyboard music, coupled with female vocals, which is evidenced by the next song in the list.

5. The Magnetic Fields – 100,000 Fireflies |

He absolutely loves this song. This is one song he can stand to listen to again and again and again. But as all other songs he knows, he has a botched up memory of what the title is – 100 butterflies..100 futterflies..flutterfly song.. but whichever way he requests it, I know for sure this is the song he wants.

We’ve stopped the morning music immersion program – since due to scheduling conflicts, I can’t take him to daycare early in the morning anymore. But on the occasion, he would get a sample of my music in the car and ask ‘What’s that?’  then  I would get a chance to educate in the wonderful musical stylings of not-so-mainstream music.

(robot drawing by paolo)