Home > In Their Own Words > In Their Own Words – Evan’s U2 Experience

In Their Own Words – Evan’s U2 Experience

This “In Their Own Words” is by Denise Corbin-Kumar, of Fort Wayne, Indiana.  She is the mother of two boys, one, Evan, has been diagnosed with PDD-NOS, but his school’s testing showed Asperger Syndrome.

My younger son, Evan, has been a challenging child. He was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder when he was about 5, but up until that point, I just knew that something wasn’t quite right with that kid. He was hyper, into everything, and stubborn. But he was also very loving, very coordinated, and he loved music. When he couldn’t talk, he could sing, and U2 was one of Evan’s favorites.

Evan and U2 go way back. When Evan was 4 months old, the CD “All That You Can’t Leave Behind” was released. We bought it as we left my sister Jenni’s house in Meadville, PA and listened to it all of the way back to Indiana. Everyday when I’d drive Alex to school, I’d listen to that cd, come home singing the songs, and put Evan down for his afternoon nap. I noticed that the song “Walk On” was my choice song to sing, as I rocked him to sleep. As Evan got older, he’d fuss until I started singing that song to him. It seemed to calm him down, so I kept singing it to him everyday. It worked for both of us!

About a year later, the U2 Live in Boston DVD hit the shelves, and Evan loved it! He’d be sitting on the floor in front of the TV, sucking his thumb, and holding a cloth diaper in his hand, watching Bono. If I turned the TV off, or changed the channel, he’d cry and throw a fit! So, I just left it on, and we were both happy!

The song “Beautiful Day” became another one of Evan’s favorites at this time. At age 2, Evan could barely talk, but he’d hum along with the U2 songs, and sometimes he’d sing the end of the phrases. When I’d put him in his bed to sleep, we’d sing a lot of U2 songs, but “Beautiful Day” was one he’d always be happy to hear. I knew that I could use music to teach him how to communicate with people so he wasn’t so mad all of the time.

As U2 released more cd’s, Evan learned the songs and sang along. He didn’t refer to U2 as “U2”, but he called them “Bodo” and when he could speak more clearly, “Bono”. One of his favorite songs is “Out of Control”, and when Evan gets, as he calls it, “that wild feeling inside”, he’ll just sing out like Bono “I’m out of control!!”

We decided that we were going to take Evan to a U2 concert. I had worried for a long time that Evan wouldn’t be able to handle the loud noise of the concert or the huge crowd. Neither of these things were a problem for him. The stage was huge, with lights everywhere. Evan really, really LOVES lights! (He wants to turn them all on, all the time, everywhere we go!)

So, when the woman at the U2 concert said very loudly to her male companion “I’d NEVER bring my kid to a concert like this!!” I yelled at her “why not??” She looked away from me when she heard my reply. She wouldn’t understand anyway! In fact, there were quite a few kids at the concert, so I guess I’m not the only one who wanted to share a great night with my kids.

When U2 finally took the stage on Saturday night, Evan was just screaming “Bono, I’m here to see you” and waiving his hands with huge eyes and a wide smile on his face! The first song they sang is from the new cd, and Evan said “Mom, that’s the song I play on my cd player in my room at night”.  Then they played “Beautiful Day” and Evan could not contain his happiness any longer. He sang all of the words, and threw his hands into the air just like everyone else in the crowd. I guess I shouldn’t have worried about him not having a great time!

I watched Evan enjoy his favorite band, sometimes watching him more than the show on the stage. When they played the song “I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight”, they changed it to a dance mix, and Evan was dancing around like he was at a disco. He enjoyed the show just as much as the old people like me who can still remember the first time we heard “Sunday Bloody Sunday” or “Pride.”

Evan kept looking up into the sky at the lights from the stage that were shooting beams of lights into the clouds. He looked at me and asked, “Mommy, is that heaven?” I didn’t know what he was talking about, so I said, “Where, up in the sky?” and Evan said, “No, everywhere here?” I didn’t know how to answer such a question, and I was a little choked up by it. I said, “Well, maybe it is to some people.” Evan replied, “Yeah, that’s what I thought!” I told my husband, Sam, what Evan had said and he just shook his head with a smile on his face and said “That Evan!”

So, when you ask Evan how he liked seeing Bono or how he liked the U2 concert, he’ll probably just say “it was good,” but don’t be fooled. He LOVED it!! Just before the show ended, as he was standing on my chair, leaning into my back so he didn’t fall while he was dancing, Evan put his arms around my neck and said “Mommy, I LOVE this concert! Thank you for bringing me to see Bono!”

It was completely worth the expensive tickets to hear those words, spoken so clearly into my ear, by a boy who not so long ago couldn’t talk, but could always sing the songs that he loved by his favorite band!

Evan dressed as Bono on Halloween

“In Their Own Words” is a series within the Autism Speaks blog which shares the voices of people who have autism, as well as their loved ones. If you have a story you wish to share about your personal experience with autism, please send it to editors@autismspeaks.org. Autism Speaks reserves the right to edit contributions for space, style and content. Because of the volume of submissions, not all can be published on the site.

  1. John Alexanian
    November 11, 2010 at 9:37 pm

    This may be my favorite post of all-time

    Evan RULES!!

    Thanks for sharing this Denise. It sounded like a great GREAT night!

  2. Melissa Warry-Smith
    November 12, 2010 at 7:59 am

    I really enjoyed your story. It’s funny with U2…my daughter Riley just loves them as well. When she was about 4 or 5 we were playing a game called “Don’t Make Me Laugh”…the card she pulled was to “pretend you are at a rock concert”…instead, Riley pretended she was Bono on stage singing “Vertigo” of all songs. Couldn’t understand the words at the time but it was clear what it was.

    I was hesitant to take her to the concert but after reading your story, maybe next time around.



  3. Trish
    November 12, 2010 at 10:09 am

    I LOVE this post! U2 has been my favorite band since I was 14 years old (I’m 41 now) & I have a daughter with an ASD. This brought a tear to my eye. I would absolutely love to listen to my Emily sing along with my favorite band. When “No Line On The Horizon” was first released, U2 performed on “Good Morning America” & the whole audience was waving their arms in the air. My baby girl stood there in front of the TV waving her arms in the air as well-it was a beautiful day!!

  4. Karina
    November 12, 2010 at 10:36 am

    WOO HOO!! Go Evan!!
    I think U2 is such an EXCELLENT band!They tend to relax me and make me feel VERY POSITIVE—my son loves to sing too! He is turning 9 yrs old this Monday and we found out about Julian being autistic when he was in kindergarten–it was tough when we first found out about this-our world ended! but we have come a long way with my son, he has a younger brother as of 3 years ago and that has been like the best thing that we could have ever done–we didn’t want to have anymore kids being afraid that we would put our kid through “that”, but you know there is someone really BIG somewhere and we were given strength, knowledge and everything else that helped us come along with Julian—we are so proud of our son he has come such a along way—he also couldn’t give us complete sentences kind of babbling and i could only make out the last part of what he said–but with the music that he enjoyed to sing and did it very well, and with our faith—i think we have come along way! Best wishes to you and your family! GO EVAN!

  5. Traci
    November 12, 2010 at 12:42 pm

    I have been to many, many U2 concerts, and it can definitely feel the way I would imagine heaven would.

  6. Morgan
    November 12, 2010 at 12:50 pm

    I also live in the Ft. Wayne area, and have two children on the Autism Spectrum. My girls are huge fans of Taylor Swift, and I have often wondered how they would do at a concert. It is so nice to hear uplifting stories like yours and Evan’s. I hope that someday my girls and I could enjoy a concert together.

  7. November 12, 2010 at 1:16 pm

    What a wonderful post! I love the way you’ve met your child on his level so you can enjoy something together.

  8. Audra
    November 12, 2010 at 1:24 pm

    That is such a wonderful story! And, ironically enough, very familiar. My 3 year old daughter was diagnosed with ASD this year and she positively LOVES U2 as well. She likes to watch the U2:360 DVD and also dances to “I’ll Go Crazy…” But her favorite is ” Mysterious Ways ” to which she dances AND sings! When she wants to watch it, she points to the DVD player and says “Mama, music please!”

  9. November 12, 2010 at 1:52 pm

    EVAN! I love it! I am the worlds biggest U2 fan since 1982! It is my most favorite thing EVER! AND, I am the mother of a 5yr old daughter with autism! I feel you Evan! My daughter is sooo passionate about music. She likes U2, but does not love them like her Mom! I get it. Bono sings, Edge’s guitar sings, you feel the beat of Adam’s bass and Larry’s drumming at your heart! It’s an experience! The words are powerful and the meanings mean something – something important. Symbolic. Sympathetic, Empathatetic. Powerful. Epic.
    Evan I adored your halloween picture! I hope you or your parents will friend request me on facebook or Email me because I would love to share U2 or autism talks with you. You are AMAZING! God bless you and keep on rocking the BONO!

  10. aicha
    November 12, 2010 at 1:57 pm

    Wonderful story!

    Thanks for sharing

  11. MAM
    November 12, 2010 at 1:59 pm

    You should send this blog post to U2’s management and post it to U2’s website. Make sure you leave contact info. Ask if your son could go backstage at the U2 show. I worked concerts for years and kids like yours were always welcomed by the venues and the artists backstage. Worth a shot. Your son needs to meet Bono, or better yet Bono needs to meet your kid. :)

  12. Andrea
    November 12, 2010 at 4:33 pm

    Thank you for sharing such an uplifting story!!! Keep on rockin’ Evan!!!

    I was going to suggest the same thing to do as MAM. I had the privilege of meeting Bono at a restaurant I worked at years ago. He was/is one of the nicest people I have met in the music industry.

  13. Melanie
    November 12, 2010 at 4:43 pm

    This is beautiful! It brought tears to my eyes. Your son sounds amazing! I love that you found something that you can share. People with typical children don’t realize how hard to come by those moments are for us. When I can have a moment like that with my son, I treasure and relive it! You are a wonderful mother and YES, you should contact U2 with this story.

  14. peg
    November 13, 2010 at 12:24 am

    Seriously? That kid? He is your child, not “a kid.”

  15. Yamile
    November 13, 2010 at 10:30 pm

    Thanks for sharing this beautiful story. My son is 11 with ASD too and since he was 3 we noticed when driving and listening to U2 that he started to like their music a lot. Now that he is 11 he enjoys watching the concerts on the TV. When we ask why he likes U2 so much He said that he feels amazingly happy and great. It is amazing how we can connect so many experiences and learn more everyday from our kids.

  16. Jane
    November 15, 2010 at 11:42 am

    My son with autism (now 15) has been to many concerts over the past 5 years, but particularly enjoyed U2 – so much so that we have Red Zone tickets for the concerts that were supposed to be last summer but rescheduled to next summer. He also says that U2 makes him feel happy… and I have told many people over the years that my idea of heaven is what Edge’s guitar sounds like on “Beautiful Day”.
    Really love the Bono Halloween costume with the Christmas lights – very clever!

    To the other Moms out there, if your child is not terribly sound sensitive and like lights and music, concerts can be absolutely amazing experiences to share. I would recommend bringing a good pair of ear plugs for the child to dampen the noise if it is a bit louder than anticipated just in case, but it is SO worth a try!

  17. Mama R
    November 17, 2010 at 11:08 am

    I really enjoyed this post and also have a child with PDD-NOS and he really enjoys music. He has a really hard time sleeping at night and music always seems to calm him and help him sleep. The music makes me want to dance but there is something that helps him calm down, relax and actually stay asleep.

  18. November 19, 2010 at 11:38 pm

    Really GREAT story…loved reading this. Go Evan is right! You and your son give me hope for my ASD 3 yr old son who is apraxic. I look forward to the day that i can hear him sing a song. (Great picture, awesome costume, too, Evan!) I enjoyed reading all of these wonderful comments as well as i can relate to a lot of them… i know each of us/ our children have the diagnosis but they vary, but there are some aspects they have in common…its nice to not feel alone. I have been HUGE fan of U2 also since they first began and my son also LOVES music (and lights..likes them ALL on…in car too)…one of the songs he goes to sleep to at night is Beautiful day…i sing along and it makes him happy and calms him. I can relate to Mama R. We must always have music with us wherever we go, store, etc…in case something upsets him…we put on Billy Joel (Just the way you are) or other music he likes (on cell phone) and he calms down. Thanks again for sharing.

  19. Monica
    January 26, 2012 at 11:28 am

    This is an awesome story thanks for sharing it with people…..helikopterpilot …..my son also do concerts and he is a student of 9standard…

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