Hello my name is Daniel, I love to play the guitar and I have Asperger's Syndrome or Autism Spectrum Disorder as some call it these days. My intent to create this blog is to educate people about Asperger's the best that I possibly can through my personal experiences and how having it has actually helped me to progress in learning and studying the guitar. I will also discuss things that I have learned about the guitar and songs that I have written.
I was diagnosed with Asperger's when I was in elementary school. The diagnosis was a big relief for me and my family. During that same school year I was bullied physically, thankfully though it was only one kid rather than a whole group of kids. I even had protection given to me from some of the "jocks" in my grade. My parents pulled me out of public school and I was then sent to a special school that sadly closed its doors almost ten years ago called Success Point. Success Point specialized in helping children with Autism, ADHD, ADD, Asperger's Syndrome, kids falling behind in school, and hyperactive kids. I learned great tolerance at this school and social skills through a program called RARE "Respect, Accept/Adapt, Relate, and Empower." At this school we also learned about serotonin and the effect that it has in calming the brain down. After the school closed down, I went to see a child psychologist over the summer and took social skills classes. I HATED these, but I am grateful that my parents were persistent and got me very much needed help. Afterwards I was home schooled for my first year of middle school. This was a double edged sword as while I was not getting bullied anymore, I wasn't around other kids very much and could not practice my social skills. The next two years I went to a hybrid home school (part at home and part at a school building), then I finished my schooling at a religious based online school.
A few other things about me. I have very sensitive hearing so often thunderstorms (especially thunder), strong wind, sirens, hail, and loud noises really get me worked up and nervous. I tend to go very quiet and I pace a room back and forth, I also become obsessive about the sound especially if it's a thunderstorm, I constantly check the Doppler radar to see if the storm is moving away. I know what you're probably thinking, "You don't like loud noises, yet you play the guitar which is loud." The truth is I don't have a problem with sounds that I can control, it's the ones that I cannot control that I don't like. When I have an electric guitar plugged into an amplifier with or without pedals, I can control the volume level easily, where as if someone else is playing very loud, I can't control that and it can bother me (that and I don't want to lose my hearing). I also have a sensitive palate, meaning that I have hard time with certain textures in foods. This also means that I do not like to visit the dentist even though I know that I have to. A sensitive sense of smell is something that I also possess. This makes it very hard for me to eat things that are very pungent like broccoli or peas and other vegetables. I often struggle to even say hello to people that I know and I especially struggle with eye contact when I am either speaking or being spoken to. Some Asperger's people can't even stand to be touched. With me I am fine with physical contact from people that I know, but if I don't know you I do not want to be touched. Handshakes and high fives or bones are always fine from strangers, but hugging is a different story unless I know you very well, like from family members for example.
My love for the guitar came from the fact that I grew up with my dad's classic rock CD collection. I often spent my time listening to bands like Boston, Fleetwood Mac, Asia, Three Dog Night, REO Speedwagon, The Eagles, Styx, Supertramp, Toto, and some more gentle bands like the 1970's soft rock group Bread and The Carpenters. I loved songs that have lots of electric guitar and solos rather than songs with lots of acoustic guitar (although that has definitely changed now). My dad and his brother had played guitar throughout their high school days and we had an old acoustic guitar lying around the back of our house. When I was about eleven, I decided to try to learn to play the guitar, at the time I was learning to play the piano. My first guitar was a First Act Discovery acoustic guitar, very cheap, but came with helpful stickers and chord charts etc. The first song that I tried to play was "Take it on the Run" by REO Speedwagon. Needless to say, the pain in my fingers was tremendous and I had to really fight through it to progress. About a year later, I got my first electric guitar, it was a First Act Discovery guitar with a little speaker in the middle that was powered by a 9 volt battery, once again very cheap. Shortly after that, I got another guitar this time a First Act electric guitar that needless to say was a piece of junk and was replaced by a blue Ibanez Gi0 GAX30 guitar shortly after Christmas. My acoustic was replaced with a Yamaha when I was about fourteen. Since then, the Ibanez has been replaced with a Fender Stratocaster, first a sunburst one, and now a black one that I still currently use. Initially I started by playing parts of songs that I had listened to. Eventually, the first song that I learned how to play all the way through was Carry on My Wayward Son by Kansas. From there I started learning songs by Pink Floyd and David Gilmour as I went through high school, learning David's technique how to be melodic and how to play cleanly. Eventually I gravitated also towards players like Eric Johnson. I cannot play nearly as fast or as cleanly as he can, but I am amazed at his ability and I have learned how to play his songs at speeds that are comfortable for me. I have also had the opportunity to record songs that I have tried to write since I was eighteen, and I will be posting them periodically on this blog. I have continued to study the guitar since that time and write more songs. I hope that this blog will be helpful for those with questions regarding Asperger's Syndrome/Autism Spectrum Disorder, and will also be a fun place for you to hear my latest creations.