Can someone with Aspergers get past feeling socially awkward?
As many of you know Alfie is obsessed with Queen and you also know that with Aspergers comes a feeling of being socially
awkward. Queen have probably been Alfie’s biggest obsession so far. He eats, sleeps and breathes Freddie Mercury. Up until very recently he listened to nothing else at home, unless it has a purpose and he had to. More recently though he has taken a liking to Stereophonics. Now if Bohemian Rhapsody is not blaring away in the back room, Handbags and Gladrags is. A few weeks ago we discovered something called the Rock Project. I knew it would be ideal for him if I could just get him interested in it. It would be worth taking a risk making him go even if it meant he might feel Socially Awkward. I hoped he would soon get over it.
The Rock Project is a weekly club where youngsters like Alfie can go and Jam. Lessons are available in various different instruments including vocal. I knew this would be perfect for him. At the end of the sessions they all come together to form a band and they are given the opportunity to perform at various events.
Music is where Alfie’s heart lies and I knew I couldnt let something like feeling socially awkward hold him back so I decided to push him into it. I dont normally push him into anything, but this time I felt i needed to. Being part of the Rock Project would give him the lift he so badly needed.
A love of Guitar and singing
I knew he would be tempted by what I had to tell him about the Rock Project. Afterall it would give him a chance to play with a live band, something he had wanted to do for a long time. This would also get him amongst like minded children. It would get him out of the house and socialising. He would feel socially awkward for a while but I felt he might come round.
On Saturday the 23rd of June Alfie attended his first session. His dad stayed with him for the whole time to help him feel at ease. He didnt mix and infact hardly spoke to anyone. The week before he had managed to learn two songs. The organiser said that they had a gig the following week and as long as he had learned a couple of songs and sang OK with the band, he would let him perform.
Alfie was determined nothing was going to get in the way of him getting on that stage to perform like Freddie would have. The practice session went brilliant and he was told he would be allowed to take part.
The big day
When we first arrived I felt so sorry for Alfie because he looked so lost and of course socially awkward. He didnt really speak to anyone and stood there alone like a spare part. I knew if I interfered I risked meltdown so left him to see how he coped. Once the band was set up he came and sat back down with us. He waited patiently to take his turn on the stage. He does not get nervous before he performs. I often ask him how this can be, given that he is socially awkward? He says he doesn’t get nervous because he doesnt see anyone in front of him when he is on stage. You see the music takes him to another world and he uses it as a form of escapism.
As it was a short set and he hadnt been with the Rock Project for long he was given two songs to sing. Smoke on the water (Deep Purple) and Dakota (Stereophonics). It was really odd to see him perform anything else but Queen, so this was something new for us.
As always he got up on the stage, gave it 100% and totally smashed it. He was a bit flat in places but so are many other singers are when they perform live. Remember he is only 12 years old and not perfect by any means. He really enjoyed it! As soon as he hit the stage all his anxiety just melted away. It was like we were watching two different people, Alfie Thomas who cannot cope being socially awkward and ‘Rock Star Alfie’. It is really strange.
I could hear the people sat next to me saying how fabulous the boy singer was. Other people were talking about him too but I couldnt see them. They were saying how good the young boys voice was and how well the band did. I felt myself tearing up. It was such a proud moment to see our boy perform infront of the biggest audience yet. At the end, a guy came over to say how good Alfie
was. He took his hand and wouldn’t let go. I could see the nervous look in Alfie’s eyes. He looked to me for reassurance so I smiled back at him to let him know I was aware and to give him a reassuring nod. He gave the guy a quick glance and then the eye contact drifted towards me. I’m not sure what would have happened had Alfie not been caught up in the thoughts of his performance because he can come across as being really rude. He isn’t. He just can’t help it so I really didnt want that to happen. I knew he thrived on praise and although he wasn’t making eye contact, he was lapping it all up.
He is looking forward to next week now. Im hoping feeling Socially Awkward when he is in this environment will become a thing of the past and that he will eventually find it easier to mix with like minded people.
Looking at the picture taken before they started you can see from Alfie’s body language how socially awkward he felt. He is standing away from the others with his body ever so slightly leaning outwards. I have blanked out other students faces for obvious reasons.