Musical performers on the autism spectrum band together for local charity
TORONTO -- Rawan Tuffaha’s says singing is one of her favourite things to do, and is one of her many talents.
“It helps improve my mood,” she tells CTV News Toronto. “Music always seems to have soul.”
The vocalist is part of a musical group, assembled by the charity Jake’s House, an Etobicoke, Ont.-based charity that provides support to families living with autism.
They call themselves ‘ASD Band’, for autism spectrum disorder. Each of the members of the band is on the autism spectrum.
“Autism effects communication and each of us communicates in a different way and at a different level,” says David Bodanis, co-founder of Jake’s House. “One of the platforms we’ve found that you can have tremendous success in uniting and bringing everybody together, creating inclusion, is in fact music.”
Bodanis and his wife, who have two sons of their own with autism, began searching their networks for individuals that had various talents in music and instruments in hopes of forming the group.
“What we found shocked us,” Bodanis tells CTV News Toronto. “So, the culmination in putting together all of that talent is ‘ASD Band’.”
The five musical performers have joined forces to cover and record some of their favourite songs, from classics to current pop hits.
Tuffaha says she enjoys getting to collaborate with others.
“I really like the camaraderie,” she says. “Sometimes we might have our ups and downs, but we all seem to be in sync together.”
However, the band says that getting together to perform has become more challenging since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
“It has been a little difficult,” admits Bodanis. “Being parents of children with autism, the number one issue for us is always the health and safety.”
“You’ll notice we’re all socially distanced,” he adds.
Tuffaha says the COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t been easy on her, either.
“The pandemic has affected all of us psychologically,” she says. “Every time I would be all depressed about it, I would always imagine at one point when the pandemic ends. I usually end up singing.”
The ASD Band says they are happy to be singing and playing music this month, as October is Canadian Autism Awareness Month.
“To celebrate the one in 66 children that are being born with Autism in North America at the moment,” Bodanis says.
One of the songs ASD Band recorded is a cover of Sonny and Cher’s ‘I got you babe.’ The songs ASD Band has recorded are available on major audio streaming platforms, with proceeds from the downloads going to Jake’s House.
“We’re all talented in our own way,” says Tuffaha. “I would love for all our band to be successful.”