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ASD Band: Creating Music and Breaking Stereotypes About People with Autism

ASD Band: Creating Music and Breaking Stereotypes About People with Autism

WORDS BY Lorraine Pelley

Spenser Murphy didn’t have many friends when he was growing up. His mom, Pat Murphy, a single parent, recalls how he was never invited to other children’s birthday parties. When he was in the seventh grade, Spenser was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.

Autism is a neurodiverse condition that is often characterized by challenges with communication, paying attention and social interactions, restrictive and repetitive behaviours or interests, and difficulties with learning, moving, sleeping, and activities of daily living.

After his diagnosis, the Murphy’s grew closer as a family while developing a deeper understanding of autism. They found a supportive community at Jake’s House, a charitable organization that provides support and lasting hope to people with Autism and their families.

It was through Jake’s House that Spenser’s life changed forever in ways he and his mom could never have imagined. As a talented drummer, Spenser was invited to perform with three other musically talented adults with autism in front of a crowd of 2,000 at The Sony Centre alongside Roger Hodgson Orchestra show during a 2019 World Autism Awareness Day event.

It was obvious from their first performance that this incredibly talented four-member band was meant to do more. What was supposed to be a one-time gig quickly turned into a musical career. ASD Band is made up of Ron Adea who plays the piano, lead singer Rawan Tuffaha, guitarist and vocalist Jackson Begley, and Spenser who is the drummer. ASD stands for autism spectrum disorder.

ASD Band currently has one album available on several streaming channels. Their second album will be released this month. Their songs are all original tracks written by the four members. The inspiration for all their music comes from their own personal life experiences as well as their experiences and challenges they encounter living with autism.

Along with writing and recording their own music, ASD Band has travelled across North America and played numerous sold-out shows at various festivals and events.
Along with the tours and albums, ASD Band recently competed in America’s Got Talent Canada where they received a standing ovation from the audience and judges after performing one of their original songs for their audition.

A documentary about the band’s early years, ASD Band: The Movie, was produced and released in April 2022 at Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema in Toronto. It is currently available to stream at The award-winning documentary is a heartwarming and authentic story about the band’s early years when they first started in the music industry. It follows them along their journey and showcases the challenges and victories the band faced as they wrote and recorded their first album while navigating through a new and often foreign world. The documentary was directed by Mark Bone and produced by Escarpment Films, Edelman and Jake’s House.

People with ASD face many negative and harmful stigmas and stereotypes. ASD Band is not only creating great music, they are breaking all these stereotypes and giving hope to others with ASD with their fabulous songs and performances, as well as with the help of their marketing firm Edelman.

For Spenser, joining the band is super cool and has changed his life. In the last five years, he has made many great friends and has travelled a lot. His proud mom is grateful to Jake’s House for all the support and opportunities they have received as a family since Spenser’s diagnosis. She’s see how much more confident and independent Spenser is and how much he has grown as a person and artist.

ASD Band plans to continue producing more music and touring.