Autism is a developmental disorder that currently affects nine out of every 1,000 American children, a number that has steadily risen since the 1980s. Symptoms usually appear by age three, and often encompass difficulties in communicating within normal developmental and social parameters.
Late Pink Floyd founding member Syd Barrett is believed by many to have suffered from a form of autism. He lived in virtual seclusion for 30 years after releasing four albums with Pink Floyd and as a solo artist.
The disability remains poorly understood by the general public. Hollywood has a tendency to portray austists as superpowered savants, while commentators like Michael Savage have claimed, "99 percent of the cases, it's a brat who hasn't been told to cut the act out."
Including Kids is a tutoring organization dedicated to helping autistic kids learn the skills that will enable them to lead more normal lives. They began with just 10 kids in 2003, and now help over 200 kids and their families through after school programs. In observance of Autism Awareness Month, they will be hosting a fundraiser called Rock Autism at Concert Pub North Sunday from 4 to 11 p.m.
Tickets for the event are $15, and 86 cents of every one of those dollars goes directly into autism programs.
"I know the economy is less than ideal right now but our children with autism do not have time to wait until the economy improves. For every child, time is of the essence,' according to Jennifer Dantzler, BCBA, M.S.Ed., Executive Director of Including Kids.
Tomorrow's benefit will feature a fashion show by designers Ash Couture, Alika Hall and Jess Taplin, as well as DJ sets by Troy "Techno" Bradshaw. Of most interest to Rocks Off is the battle of the bands featuring three Houston-based groups. VerseCity, August 83, and Forever Miles, who will square off to see whose music can raise the most money in the fight against autism.
Pop-punkers VerseCity are already fresh from battle, having netted $1,000 from a recent University of Houston battle using the same set as the one they plan on utilizing at the Rock Autism event. Their latest single, "Pressure!," has reached No. 2 on Indonesian radio charts.
"We are doing this event for two reasons," saays Micaiah of VerseCity. "1, it supports a good cause, and 2, we love a good clean competition. We work really hard, but being in a city like Houston it can be vary hard.
"There is not a lot of big money gigs for original bands, but there are a ton charity event that need bands," he continues. "We probably get asked to play about 20 free charity events a year, and we usually play about 15 of them."
Linda Lambert of August83 is also looking forward to the show. Rocks Off has been infatuated with their song "Angels Above You" for the last few days, lost in its half-Birthday Massacre, half-"Estranged" by Guns n' Roses awesomeness.
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"We've had personal experience with public schools and their lack of support when it comes to our own children who have ADHD and Tourette syndrome," says Lambert. "It was a continual fight every year dealing with teachers who just weren't trained or fully understood these disorders.
"Including Kids supports the whole family, which is so important. Helping them to raise money so that families who can't afford their services can is an awesome opportunity for us to give."