Teen drummer publishes digital magazine about living with autism – The Oakland Press


Many musicians stamp their feet to the beat, but Shelby Township drummer Grant Harrison does not. Harrison nods like a gentle heavy metal drummer as fellow Utica High School band casually tap their toes.

Grant, 16, was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, a term used to describe neurodevelopmental disorders in the autism spectrum. The term Asperger’s refers to people with high-level autism who are autistic, but since 2013 the term has lost support in the medical community. People with this condition are no longer selected by others on the autism spectrum. The characteristics of autism vary from person to person, but generally include repetitive behaviors and social challenges.

Grant, entering fourth grade at Utica High School, is doing well in school. He maintains the top grade average and is part of the school band, jazz, marching and orchestra. He also plays drums in an after-school social group called The Basement Group, which includes a few friends and his younger brother Bryce.

Grant manages his symptoms, including anxiety and resulting panic attacks, restlessness, social anxiety, hearing and speech problems, and texture issues by redirecting his focus and others. techniques. .. It’s his hearing loss that makes him bang his head while playing, says his mother, Tracy.

“Language is difficult for him because he hears what we hear underwater,” she says. “That’s why the drums are perfect because he can feel the beat.”

In addition to active cognitive support, playing with the group helped Grant manage his anxiety and grow socially, which in turn boosted his self-esteem.

Grant started playing drums in his sophomore year after Tracy, who played the clarinet, realized that her son was interested in music. Knowing that other types of instruments might not work for Grant, Tracy advised him to try the drums. She hired drum instructor Carol Bouford to work personally with her son, and the two formed a connection that would last for years.

After a brief lesson from Buffard, Grant became interested in appearing in a fourth-grade talent show. His performance was very well received by his classmates and became known as the “kid playing the drums”. This greatly boosted Grant’s self-esteem.

In addition to music, Grant is a longtime member of Scout BSA and recently achieved Boy Scout’s best achievement, Eagle Scout rank. The Eagle Scout requirement is the completion of a major community service project. Grant, who blogs online about his life with autism, published a 26-page digital magazine, “Music Through the Eyes and Ears of Autism,” about his time with the group. Available online at Grant’s FetchTheSwell.com site, the purpose of this magazine is to raise awareness about living with autism.

“It’s hard to understand what it is (to have autism) because it’s a mental type rather than a physical one,” says Grant. “I want to make a difference in the community, explain what it looks like and lead the change.”

16-year-old Grant Harrison plays drums in a Utica High School band. He recently published a digital magazine about life with autism to earn the Eagle Scout badge. Photo courtesy of Debra Kaszubski

Grant wants to continue publishing digital magazines on a quarterly basis. He named the site after the tenacity of a surfer dog on the waves. It’s a metaphor for Grant’s determination to overcome social barriers and succeed. Grant, who has blogged for several years, has posted numerous articles and photos on his website. Its purpose is to show people the people behind the diagnosis.

“You see a lot of medical things, but these are kids who are doing well and doing well,” says Tracy. “As a parent, I wanted to see something like this when Grant was young.”

Grant’s work FetchTheSwell.com.. Or, for more information on autism, visit the following website: autismspeaks.org..

Teen drummer publishes digital magazine about living with autism – The Oakland Press

Teen drummer publishes digital magazine about living with autism – The Oakland Press


Amanda P. Whitten

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