Music as a connection engine for people with autism
Life is a roller coaster, where we are exposed to continuous ups and downs. There are times that no one prepares us for, times when the only solution is to be strong and surround ourselves with our people. This is the story of Jordi Arditcoordinator of installation and maintenance of own resources of Valencia and Castellón in local operations and volunteer of the Telefónica Foundation.
If there is a trait that defines him, it is his permanent and contagious smile that teaches us the beautiful lesson of being positive. The story of Jordi and his family can be extrapolated to that of thousands of other people, hence the importance of being aware of what autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is and how we can help through inclusion.
An invisible connection through music
In 2010 they diagnosed autism Diego, Jordi’s little son, when he was just 2 years old. “It was a very hard few months to see how our son was getting less and less and stopped communicating with us,” he recalls.
Jordi hadn’t played the guitar for two decades, but as his son stopped communicating, he decided to get back in touch with music. One afternoon he was playing Eric Clapton’s song ‘Tears in Heaven’, while Diego was next to him. At one point I stopped singing and he began to hum it with the intonation and the perfect tenses“, bill.
They both lived a moment of connection through musicthis moment being the reason why Jordi will create the association Music for Autism (MUA) that same night.
The power of digital connections
MUA was born in 2013 as the effort and fight of fathers and mothers who seek to support and help their children to improve their personal development through music and other art. Throughout the month following that event, Jordi began to spread the idea, managing to found the association in Valencia with eight families and only a month after that magical connection.
The social media played a key role In this story, thanks to Facebook they made the project known, connecting it both with people who were looking to take their children, and with those who wanted to help. Thus, they managed to count on the collaboration of a music therapy professional and a place where they could carry out their activities.
The power of music over emotions of people is enormous, a melody can transport us to a specific moment that happened ten years ago, to a person, to a feeling, etc. It allows us to be able to travel in time and to the depths of our mind. The same thing happens for people with ASD, the music therapy It helps them improve verbal and non verbal communication, helping them to strengthen relationships with other people. All this happens thanks to the expression of ideas, emotions and feelings that are made with music and dance.
The key role of Fundación Telefónica in Music for autism
Along with all of the above, Jordi presented MUA to Fundación Telefónica’s call for volunteer aid. Although this was the first time he had participated in this initiative, it was in 2008 when he first connected with volunteering promoted by the company with a solidarity race in Valencia.
Jordi acknowledges that Fundación Telefónica has given him many things, «with volunteering you do something for other people, while you learn from them. They teach you worlds that you did not know before, such as disability“, bill.
The Foundation’s participation in MUA entailed an evolution that was marked by calls for volunteers, thanks to this collaboration they managed to give more visibility and inclusion of people with ASD. Sometimes, we are not aware of the need and relevance of this type of activity for people with disabilities, until we see it up close. Hence, the importance of being altruistic and developing our emotional intelligence, something we have learned during the pandemic and we must not forget.
Fostering inclusion with music workshops
Thus, they began to start inclusive leisure projects, cultural activities related to art, culture, a documentary, an album, interactive music concerts, etc. With this type of activities from MUA they work to encourage children with ASD to get together with other children without autism and found that this worked well and was very well received. Jordi tells us that the greatest success of these workshops comes when “you see that they are able to communicate and do things that they would not have done if we had not set up this type of activity,” he explains.
Being one of these great examples, that of a girl with ASD with the most affected part of the spectrum, that is, without communication, language, without looking into the eyes, etc. During an inclusive leisure event they held in 2014, the little girl danced for the first time holding hands with another child without ASD. «All the effort we invested is compensated by these moments«, Jordi comments.
Another example that shows us that everything is possible is the story of Antonio Belmonte, a musician with moderate autism who participated in a symphonic jazz concert with professional musicians at a European level and which they carried out from MUA, thanks to the support of the Foundation.
One of Jordi’s dreams, as a member of MUA, was to be able to collaborate with professional musicians from the Berklee University in Boston, where the best musicians in the world are and whose second venue is in Valencia. Thanks to the interest of a master’s student in the organization, those jazz concerts for autism arose.
Future challenges of Music for autism
During this interview Jordi tells us that they have accepted his proposal in the last Call for virtual Christmas volunteeringallowing them to carry out the first face to face activity since the arrival of the pandemic, “Inclusive cinema for people with ASD”, where they will watch the film Valentina.
Without a doubt, when people come together things as beautiful as those carried out by MUA can come about. It is not about being individualistic and trying to do everything alone, but when we work in a group and connect with other people and these in turn connect us with more things as beautiful as this project can come out.
When we ask him what his future challenges are, he is clear: «make a musical about ASD with the collaboration of Nacho Mañó, leader of the Presuntos Implicados group” and more on a personal level “writing a book, where the story of a character reflects how children with ASD improve with music”, he says.
He tells us about the power of visualize what we wantsince only if we imagine it do we have more chances of it becoming a reality.