See the Drummer, Not the Disability

28-year-old Saul has multiple disabilities – including learning difficulties, autism, high levels of noise sensitivity (Hyperacusis) – severe visual impairment, communication difficulties and serious health problems. Saul is dependent on others for all aspects of his personal care and daily living. At birth, Saul’s parents were advised to ‘not expect much from your son.’

But Saul has defied those expectations

When he picks up his drum sticks, Saul takes charge. He has very acute hearing with respect to music – his passion in life!

His band, The AutistiX, has managed to keep rehearsing, and recording new music for a new EP including current evocative and relevant tracks, including ‘Autism’ and ‘I am as I am,’ amongst others.

Saul and the band have greatly missed performing live so were thrilled to perform an outdoor gig at a pop-up local festival and the audience were overjoyed at their performance (as was Saul!) Saul has also become a drummer in the ‘Tales from the Shed’ programme at the well-known, truly inclusive ‘Chickenshed’ theatre company.

When he sits behind the drum kit, Saul plays so well his disabilities aren’t obvious. His performances help people realise what is possible for people with disabilities given the right opportunities and the necessary level of support.

Indeed, people at gigs are regularly blown away by him.

Nurturing Saul’s talent

Saul’s older sisters were learning the drums and one day, age 10, their teacher sat with Saul on his lap at the drum kit. His eyes lit up and he smiled from ear to ear. It was a lightbulb moment!

Tiny step by tiny step, his teachers helped Saul become a capable drummer. Through the Camden Society and a community musician, his parents created a local music group with other young people with disabilities that evolved to become a fully functioning band calling themselves The AutistiX because they are proud of who they are. As with most bands, membership has evolved over time – there have been a few changes of bass player, dads joining the band, playing gigs in London and further afield around the country and even short tours abroad. Every member of the band plays a unique and valuable role.

They want to show their musical talent and love for performing while inspiring others to pursue their passions in their lives, to value and to believe in themselves.

The future

Saul is not aware of his compromises and is thankfully usually happy. This makes a life changing impact on those around him; people realise that he is someone not to pity but to help and support, whilst celebrating who he is and how hard he works every day to progress in every aspect of his life. Because of who he is, he gives the people in his life the reason for them to do the work they do and to feel a sense of reward.

Saul will always be disabled and dependent on others but that does not stop him being passionate about his music, loving to be with people, and wanting to be busy and achieving all the time.

Saul has inspired a film maker to create a film about a drummer with autism, with Saul having a role in the film, playing djembe drums in a drum circle.

Saul’s parents told us, “Saul may not be a leader in the usual sense of the word, but he transforms lives and influences others…” We agree, and are thrilled that the judges have chosen Saul as a Dimensions Learning Disability and Autism Leader for 2021.

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