April is National Autism Awareness Month 2014. Autism is a brain development disorder characterized by difficulties with social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors. According to new numbers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, autism now affects 1 in 68 American children, over 2 million individuals in the U.S., and tens of millions worldwide. Rates have increased 10 to 17 percent annually in recent years.
Karen Moss Hale’s 23-year old son Alex was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of autism, when he was in the first grade. Karen recently recalled for me the meeting with the school psychologist. “The first thing they said was, has anybody ever told you that your child was autistic? And I looked at them and I said, no. I sort of knew what it meant because I remember seeing other t-v programs and sort of hearing about it, reading about it. So I got mad, how could you tell me that there’s something wrong with my child? But in the back of my mind I knew they were probably right.”
In fact, Karen knew something was different about Alex starting when he was just a year and a half old. Karen said, “Alex loved being around people, but when you’d take him out and be around people, the noise would affect him. He’d want to be in outdoor spaces, but then he would cover his ears because the noise was deafening to him. He would want to be around other kids but he couldn’t have more than one or two kids around him. And so he would get all excited about wanting to do normal things, but then as soon as he would be doing those normal things, he would shut down, he would go into melt down.” And as Alex got older, it became more difficult through middle and high school. Karen continued, “He became picked on because the kids understood how vulnerable he was and he became bullied.”
But Alex found an escape from bullies and the bullying when he found his voice and talent for singing. Karen explained, “We got him involved in youth choir because friends of his in elementary school realized he had a great voice and he all of a sudden decided that he enjoyed singing and so we encouraged him to sing.” Eventually, Alex began speaking and singing to raise awareness of autism through the organization, Autism Speaks.
Shortly after I launched my website, NewsForYourSoul.com, I received an email from Karen and here’s the line that caught my attention. “Autism Speaks, Alex Sings and this Mom Nags!” I’m among many she’s reached out to for a platform to share Alex “My Impossible Dream” campaign. During the next 14 to 16 months their goal is to get Alex in front of as many people and different organizations as possible to share his story on autism awareness and anti-bullying and to perform original songs he’s co-producing with his uncle Joel Moss. And at the end of the journey Alex will debut a new C-D of his songs Karen hopes he’ll be able to perform on a national stage. Karen said, “We would love that in 14-16 months when that C-D comes out that he will conclude on Times Square and either Good Morning America or the Today Show will have him there identifying live that this is what America needs to see and America needs to embrace us because autism is not going away.”
Karen shared a rundown of Alex’s recent appearances:
And here’s what Alex has coming up:
Alex explained to me why he decided to call his initiative, “My Impossible Dream”. “The one thing my mom and I keep saying is what can you make from impossible, what two words can you make from impossible? “I’m” – “possible”, Alex said. And that’s their message, that it’s possible to be who you want and accomplish what you want even if you are on the autism spectrum. So when Alex graduates with from Bryant and Stratton College in December 2014, he plans to use his business degree in the music field to pursue his dream of being a singer despite what he was told years ago. Alex said, “It’s been about ten plus years since they told me that you’ll barely get through high school, you’re never going to graduate college, and you’re going to live your days in a halfway house. It was a turning point. I just looked at her and said you are wrong, I’m going to prove you wrong.”
Play the video to watch Alex practice, then perform in front of a live audience his original song, “Walk A Mile”. It will inspire you to believe any dreams you may have are possible too!
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