Tag Archives: autistic savant

HiHopes, an amazing band

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This is a picture of the HiHopes, a band including several prodigiously gifted and otherwise handicapped people. My autistic brother is standing next to the man with dark glasses.

My brother moved to the Los Angeles area more than 15 years ago to be in this band. Music is what he lives for. He plays bass guitar in the band, but can also play the keyboard and miscellaneous other instruments such as the trumpet and the viola.  He can listen to a song and then play it, in all its different parts. Unlike the others, he can read music. The people at Hope University (which runs the HiHopes) say he is a musical savant. There are several others in the band too, people who may have trouble speaking but who play the most amazing music.

The band usually plays oldies, music from ’60s and ’70s. They play at parties and weddings around southern California.

My brother also has a part-time job working in a warehouse. He drives himself there and back–it’s a long way, maybe an hour’s commute.  He lives by himself. I’m very proud of my autistic brother, who did not speak until he was 5 years old.  Now he’s 52.

The HiHopes are having their annual fundraiser concert and auction Saturday, May 1, in Anaheim, California. If you are interested in finding out more about this unique ministry to the gifted, check out the Hope University website at http://www.hopeu.com/

Gina Marie Incandela — autistic savant?

A friend sent me a clip of autistic 7-year-old Gina Marie Incadendela singing the national anthem for NBA games.  It’s amazing for any 7-year-old–her voice sounds like that of someone much older, trained, so on.

So, what is her story? Is she parroting? Somehow it hardly seems likely. If she were deep in autism, the sensory input of a huge crowd would overwhelm her. Yet she seems unfazed.  She was once mute, and now isn’t. Not only does she sing, but she talks and has friends, according to her Web site.

Here’s what her Web site says about her recovery: “Gina received various therapies including, occupation, speech and language and behavioral.    She is now in a ‘regular’ class at a private school.  She still receives therapy at school and at home but, continues to thrive and advance.”

I am guessing that her autism has given her prodigious musical abilities. This is the case for my autistic brother, who can play a number of instruments and has perfect pitch. He can hear a song on a CD once and then sit down and play it on the piano.  He has been called a savant. People in the category of having prodigious talents despite disabilities are called savants.

My brother plays bass guitar in a band, the Hi Hopes, including several savants besides himself. It’s in Anaheim, California, near Disneyland. Actually, my brother has been having some depression issues and isn’t performing with the band. But he is rehearsing with them once a week.  He lives for this.

My son “Mike” also has perfect pitch.  He heard Gina Marie’s sound clip and said she was on pitch. I am guessing she may also have perfect pitch, because she was singing without accompaniment.

Go, Gina Marie!!