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Justin Timberlake and 25,000 fans sing Happy Birthday to 8 year old boy with Autism!

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Published on Aug 12, 2014

What Happens When Justin Timberlake and 25,000 Fans Sing Happy Birthday to A Boy With Autism?

It was the great Leonard Bernstein who said,
“Music can name the unnameable and communicate the unknowable,”
Which might explain why I haven’t been able to put into words what happened last night when my husband and I took our son, Julian to see Justin Timberlake and The Tennessee Kids for his 8th birthday.
It was my son’s only gift request this year. Well, that and Benny Spaceship Spaceship from the Lego Movie. And while everyone knows I love Legos above all toys, Justin Timberlake was decidedly more appealing.
Frankly though, it would have been easier to get him Legos. And I’m sure a good percentage of my Facebook feed probably thought he was too young or that it might be inappropriate to bring such a young child to mostly grown-up event. Especially a child with autism. One that potentially might disrupt the concert-goers around him and make his mama worry the way mamas always do.
You know the way we do. The way the worry threatens to take over when you look around and don’t see any children, let alone a child “like yours”. Things started to unravel quickly in my mind as I looked around, giving way to my worries about Julian’s obsessions, his volume, his repetitiveness, his clumsiness, if he would spill someone’s drink and if they would be unkind to him…. basically all the things a parent worries about when they have a child that is easily misunderstood.
Even as his parents, my husband and I have taken a long while to understand. We didn’t get it, not until last year anyway, when we discovered that Julian had high functioning autism. It’s why he passed the screenings despite our suspicions and denial that something wasn’t quite right. It’s why it took us so long to acknowledge and put our finger on what was wrong. This boy that seemed academically so advanced and emotionally so far behind. This boy that still bites his fingers when he gets excited and has emotional outbursts like he’s going on 5, not 8. This boy who wanted nothing but the JT 20/20 Experience for his birthday.
My worry was if his Dad and I were still figuring him out, how were all these people around us going to understand him or the fact that he might say the same things over and over all night or knock over their beer, or the fact that he could listen to Sexyback 6000 times and never get sick of it? And trust me when I tell you this summer I learned that is, in fact, entirely possible.
We were there early and I looked around wondering who would be sitting around us, so when this group of gorgeous looking girls came and sat next to us, I cringed. They were dressed to the nines. They looked amazing in that girls night out way reminiscent of my college days. I knew they came to get their JT on and I wanted everyone to have the good time they came to have.
My husband, on the other hand, hoisted our giant 8 year old as high as he could get him, not thinking he might disrupt anyone while I worried the people behind us wouldn’t be able to see. And all the while Julian in perfect autistic fashion was repeating himself over and over, knocking into the chairs and dancing and singing and yelling, "It's my birthday!! This is my present! This is my present! I LOVE YOU JT!!"

Now I have found that others don’t always find all the things you find beautiful about your child to be so beautiful but I think that’s where Leonard Bernstein comes in. Everyone around us saw it. Everyone felt it but none of us could name it.

And at the perfect quiet moment, the group in front of us started yelling to get Justin’s attention, because despite his loud volume, Julian’s voice was not carrying. Only repeating. And then before we knew what was happening, the group in front of us that had turned out to be so incredibly kind all night to our birthday boy, and these gorgeous girls who I was convinced would be totally annoyed by Julian, had captured Justin’s attention. And then it happened. Justin Timberlake was singing Happy Birthday. They all were.
The awesome grandmother of 3 sitting in front of us.
The model-esque girls sitting to our right.
The people sitting to our left that offered us the video that they captured of the whole thing.
They were all singing.
All 25,000 of them.

This piece originally appeared in it's entirety on Jennifer Pastiloff's The Manifest-Station- http://themanifeststation.net/2014/08...

For more information on autism and how you can help get access to families in need, please go to http://www.tolunitedministries.org and support music education and live music in your community. It may be what makes all the difference in the life of a child.

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