Kansas City, MO – Brian Smith, The Aus-Sum Dad, recently announced that he has formed a new band called The Aus-Sums. The band features original music that everyone can enjoy but their main goal is helping children on the autism spectrum. The songs are tools parents can use that will help their child develop the social skills they need to excel in all areas of life.
Brian is a father of four and he and his wife, Nancy, know first-hand the challenges of raising a child diagnosed with severe autism. Many of the songs were written with his son, Tristan, in mind. The songs teach about safety, behaviour, hygiene and introduce social stories in a fun and engaging way.
The Aus-Sums band consists of Missouri residents: Michelle Beedle and Brian Smith. They have just finished recording their first demo tracks “Dancing on the Clouds” and “What Should I do” and have begun working on their first album which will soon be released.
Autism Daily Newscast came across The Aus-Sums on twitter and we contacted Brian to learn more about him and his band. Below is our interview with him.
How old was your son when he was diagnosed with autism? Did you know at the time that he may be on the spectrum?
“When Tristen was two, the director of the daycare he went to worked with kids on the spectrum, prior to running a daycare. One day when my wife and I went to pick up our two kids at that time, the director mentioned to us that she thought he may be autistic. She actually told me she thought he may be a savant, because even though he would only speak a couple words he could already do math problems. I just smiled and said okay thanks. I had no clue. When I got home I got online and Googled ‘savant’. Then I noticed that she was telling me, he was smart in math and he was autistic.”
Brian adds that when looking back now he can see that there were many signs indicating that his little boy was on the autistic spectrum. However back then, in 2007 he says; “I don’t remember hearing about autism the way we do now.”
We wanted to learn all about the positive aspects of Tristen’s life and asked Brian if he could describe his son to our readers.
“Tristen is one of the neatest kids I have ever met. I’m not being bias either. Everyone that meets him falls in love with him. He loves to tell jokes. We have fun making up knock knock jokes together. Most of them aren’t funny to anyone but us, but honestly I kind of like that.”
He then further adds:
“He has a big heart. Tristen hates to see people sad or hurt. Even when he is wanting to be alone if he sees someone is having a hard time he will tell me and try to have me fix that person’s problem. He is great at math. He had a new special needs teacher this year start at his school and when we met her he asked his famous first question,” What year were you born?” She answered him and he immediately told her how old she is. Just like everyone he does that to, she just sat there with her mouth open and then started laughing.”
Brian also told of how Tristen loves all 3 of his siblings, but that he holds a particularly strong bond with his big brother Kolte.
“It is so fun watching them interact. Even when Tristen is having some of his hardest moments he still wants Kolte around. I think it is because of his attachment to his siblings, they all want to sleep in the same room together every night. We have a 4 bedroom house, but only use 2 of them. He just loves people.”
When did you start writing music?
“I started writing music two years ago by accident. My 4 kids were very hyper one night and my wife, Nancy, was trying to get their attention and called for me to do something. Now you have to keep in mind at this point I had only taught myself 3 chords on the guitar. I don’t know why I did it but I grabbed my guitar and started singing to them. All of my kids immediately stopped in their tracks and focused on me. My wife grabbed her phone and recorded it. That song turned into one of the songs on The Aus-Sums website “Dancing On The Clouds”. From that I noticed how well songs worked to get Tristen’s attention so I started writing songs for every area he was having a hard time with and we saw changes in those areas very quickly.”
What gave you the spark to setting up The Aus -Sums?
“The night I grabbed my guitar to distract and gather my kids, my wife told me that I needed to have my own children’s’ band. After seeing the way my kids responded, I agreed and brought it to the next level. I thought what if we can not only entertain children with fun music, but also use that fun music to help autistic kids deal with different issues. She agreed and we have been excited ever since.”
Brian also told that the name The Aus-Sums was an easy one to come up with:
“Tristen when first diagnosed would always tell me he was autistic, and I would say ‘you’re not only autistic you are aus-sum.’ He still tells me he is the most awesome kid ever.”
Part 2 of this interview can be read here