Autism Awareness Month Kickoff at Brandeis University
This is a guest post by Jake Crosby. Jake is a college student with Asperger Syndrome at Brandeis University who is double majoring in History and Health: Science, Society and Social Policy.
On March 19, a Friday night, SPECTRUM – the autism awareness organization at Brandeis University, threw its first-ever related event in conjunction with Brandeis’s B-deis Records. The time was from 9 p.m. to midnight, and the place was Chalmondley’s – the coffee house on campus, popularly known as “Chums.” An array of bands from every genre of music from techno, to folk, to fusion, to alternative rock, came to perform at an event hosted by Brandeis records. For that night, all these diverse groups had but one thing in common: they were raising money and awareness for autism.
Throughout the event I was overjoyed to see the enthusiasm of all my fellow students present. It was a gathering unlike one I had ever seen before. These students, most of whom I previously had nothing to do with, presumably because of the virtual wall built up between us by my condition, were now here to show their support for those affected by the disability that has separated them and I until then.
After a flurry of announcements towards the beginning, I had my minute or two of fame when the microphone was turned over to me, where I was introduced as “Jake Crosby from the autism spectrum.” I then spoke about our club, the event, and I encouraged people to donate money to the families of Massachusetts affected by autism (Brandeis is located in Waltham, Mass., nine miles west of Boston).
Then the performance continued with the talented groups going up and playing, while throughout telling the audience emphatically to donate money for autism. The night was kicked off with Jess Saade and Fizz, who were followed by Tess Razer, a techno duo who were performing their first performance ever. They sure got off to a great start. They were followed by Zoey Hart and Paul Gale, who played an authentic folk duet. Doug Moore then went up who taught everyone what a great performance you can give with just an acoustic guitar, followed by the IceKimonians – an all-Asian alternative rock group who managed to fool everyone, or at least myself, into thinking they were Japanese – they weren’t. All these groups, in spite of their shockingly different musical tastes, all had one great thing in common: they were relentless in telling everyone to donate for autism, and in spreading awareness for the disorder at the end of each song.
One performer, Lisa Fitzgerald, and in my view one of the best musicians, even correctly stated the current prevalence of the disorder – 1%! After her, came the last act, when an enormous fusion group of about seven or so people called “Code Rad” got up to give the ending finale – a dazzling performance of guitars, basses, drums, saxes and horns. It was by far the largest group to have performed all night, a night to remember.
We did fairly well for donations. I did not count the precise amount, but from my brief glance at the collections box, I could tell we had a considerably generous audience, thanks largely in part to the persistence of the musicians in telling everyone to give to this good cause. I am very thankful to all them for their work and also thankful to B-Deis Records for putting on this event for us, especially Charley Wolinsky for being such a great announcer, not to mention Chums for hosting the event. I would also like to thank Fizz, who really helped make this even turn out to be as successful as it was. Last but not least, one person who particularly deserves credit for making this all happen is my fellow co-founder, Lauren Grewal, for setting it up in the first place.