Sunny and I posted this video for Giving Tuesday a few weeks ago, and since then we’ve been pretty quiet about asking for tax-deductible donations, despite the fact that we finally got our 501c3 back in July and should probably be asking away. As Director of The Musical Autist, I’m just not sure I want to be *that* kind of nonprofit that is constantly begging for money. I don’t know about you, but my inbox and newsfeeds has been flooded with this lately! (Or maybe it’s just me, after all, I do follow an exorbitant number of nonprofit orgs that I support and/or promote.)
Honestly, I never imagined myself to be a director of a nonprofit when I first started doing Sensory Friendly Concerts back in 2011. I just saw a real need and I knew I could fill it. People came to my SFCs and were impacted, and then they talked about it. My autistic self-advocate friends and music therapist friends started following my blog and sharing it. Things just kept growing and I felt majorly blessed to have had the ideas in the first place, and happy to be along for the ride as those ideas spread.
Ideas of a platform for self-advocacy, and equal rights to the fine arts. Not just another “nice thing to do for those people with autism and their poor families.”
No, EMPOWERMENT and SOCIAL JUSTICE for the autistic community!!!!
I’m not going to do a 3 minute video and give you the latest statistics about autism or facts that the majority of our followers already know. And I won’t use pity-fundraising tactics like sharing photos of children’s faces that will tug your heart strings and continue the serious problem of infantilizing autistic people. And I’m definitely not going to romanticize and exploit amazingly talented autistic savants like the media does (and believe me, I know quite a number of these extreme musical autists).
I’m just going to continue what I’ve been doing. Developing Sensory Friendly Concerts to cultivate autistic culture, teach society appropriate ways to accommodate and respect autistic people in public places, and to create opportunities for people to practice advocating for themselves by expression through the arts. I’m doing this by educating my music therapy colleagues on neurodiversity and “community music therapy” through my online course. And assisting my colleagues in bringing SFCs to their own communities by giving them the financial support needed for these events (i.e. hiring top notch performing artists, venue rental, flyers, etc). THAT is where your donation money goes. Not into my own pocket or toward prenatal testing research intended to “extinguish” autism like some other autism nonprofits I know.
And despite my own steep learning curve in being director of a nonprofit and zero desire to fundraise, the ideas of The Musical Autist keep spreading, people keep talking and catching the vision. In fact, just yesterday an amazing family I know (who wishes to remain anonymous) donated $3000!! Talk about feeling floored!!! And extremely honored.
This money will go toward grant money that music therapists can apply for, to bring SFCs to their own communities, to keep providing equal access to the fine arts and platforms for self-advocacy around the country and around the world.
Thanks, and Happy New Year!!!