Introducing James Durbin, a 21 year old man from San Francisco who has been diagnosed with Asperger’s and Tourette’s Syndrome. He was the last contestant to appear on the recent American Idol auditions.
It takes a long time to get to the point that this young man has got to, and in his pre-audition interview James gave an insight into what life has been like for him.
Then half way through the interview he says “I was diagnosed with Tourette’s syndrome, but when I sing it all goes away.”
Judge Jennifer Lopez said “When you sing, you sing from a really different place from a lot of others we see.”
You can see that James has used his obsession with music to find that special place in his heart to pour out all the love and emotion that has been difficult for him to express in words.
There is much speculation about whether or not James has ASD or Tourettes, as he doesn’t appear to any of the expected symptoms. But many people with ASD develop strategies over the years to help them cope in certain environments. That’s the whole point to early intervention and on-going support – so that by the time they get to the age of 21 they know how to interact. It doesn’t mean they don’t have the diagnosis any longer, it simply means they have developed the coping skills to effectively live and work in the neuro-typical world.
One of James’ former school friends said…
I knew James in High School and, though I’m ashamed of it, was one of those people who didn’t really understand why he was the way he was. I always recognized his talent but my high school self wasn’t always the best at being nice, although I tried. I can say though that, first off, the story is true. And not exaggerated. I was in a couple shows with him and when the director said action, it was like everything else went away. You never would’ve known what he dealt with outside. Talk about leaving your baggage at the door. He’s amazingly talented, always has been, and I wish him the absolute best. What a way to stick it to those in HS who just didn’t get it. Congrats James!
This is for every parent who may be feeling a little overwhelmed and wondering if the strategies you put into place will eventually make a difference.
This is an ending and a beginning – a truly wonderful story. I will stay tuned to American Idol over the next little while to see how James’ life changes. In the mean time please enjoy the music.