I joined The Autistic Adult Choir in November 2018, and it has been one of my main sources of inspiration, confidence and acceptance. Within the safe space of other Autistic voices and the amazing Choirmaster Jill, I have blossomed in a way I never thought I could. Due to my Crohn’s Disease being very active over the last year and the fact I’ve now moved to Sheffield from London, I haven’t been as active as I’d like which has been hard for me. I’m due to go for major surgery in the next couple of weeks (I’ll be doing a series of posts about that experience) and if all goes well I’ll be singing with them again in no time.
I’ve always liked singing, I just didn’t sing in front of other people. Although I did briefly join a junior school choir when I was about 8 years old. The confidence I summoned to sing Amazing Grace solo for the try outs wasn’t shattered by a rejection, it was the silence from the other children that did it. No cheer or clap greeted me sitting down. I was an outsider. I’d never shown any interest in singing before – why was I even here when I didn’t have any friends? I persevered for a while but my heart wasn’t in it. The anxiety of who I’d sit next to and having to stand still overrode any joy I got from singing – I’d end up feeling exhausted rather than exhilarated.
Autistic joy is something to be cherished and encouraged. This blog post by AutistRhi, another Autistic voice, explains Autistic joy perfectly and is worth a read. I get a lot of happiness from singing, but I get joy when I can move my hands, sway to the music and not have to be self conscious about my facial expressions. I don’t need to be ashamed that I can’t read music. Although not classically trained, I’ve actually discovered I have a good ear for pitch and harmony. When someone sings, I can join them in seconds, tuning our voices into one, creating harmonies that are a joy to the ear. That is definitely something special to the girl that thought no one wanted to hear her sing.