Listen to I AM’s curated ‘Autism’ playlist
It is currently estimated that around 700,000 people in the UK have a formal diagnosis of autism, of which around 1.76% (around one in 57) are children (JAMA Pediatrics, 2021). Some estimates put the number over 1 million, taking into account those people awaiting diagnosis and people not aware they are autistic.
Many studies have found that music can help people on the autistic spectrum develop better social skills and generate confidence. Music therapy has also demonstrated that music can reduce stress and anxiety levels.
Some people with autism have exceptional musical talent, and certainly, portrayals of autism in film, television and literature often focus on special or “savant” skills: Raymond with his astonishing memory in Barry Levinson’s 1988 American road comedy-drama Rain Man or young Fred Tate’s exceptional mathematic and piano skills in Jodie Foster’s 1991 American drama debut Little Man Tate. However, having an autism spectrum condition doesn’t guarantee any specific talents and autism is a lifelong developmental disability.
One study (World Psychiatry. 2018 Oct; 17(3): 280–281) mentioned that identifying and fostering special interests and abilities can increase self‐esteem, opportunities for interaction and appreciation, and employment options for those on the autism spectrum.
Despite the everyday challenges, these musicians and artists have proved that despite social and childhood challenges, they haven’t let their obstacles and disabilities stop them from what they want to achieve in life.
The following artists prove that despite being challenged socially and having confusing childhoods, they haven’t let anything get in the way of their goals and dreams. This list features all sorts of autistic musicians, from electronic musicians to rock stars.