Johnny Orr Band Releases Song for Autism Awareness Month


Johnny Orr Band from You Tube

The Johnny Orr Band released their single We’ll Get By as a tribute to families living with autism. Johnny Orr wrote the song at the request of a friend, Candi Spitz, who is raising two children with autism.

The lyrics, sung from the point-of-view of a child with autism, share his frustration at being unable to communicate, and demonstrate that he is aware of his mother’s pain and frustration but is unable to comfort her. He sings,

“I share my heart, but only in my mind. I share my pain when I scream at night. I can’t express to you what I’m going through, the only way is for me to cry. . .

“Mom I see your fear through every single tear, just to know I’ve caused you pain from inside of here, and my autism is like a prison that I’m in.”

The video features scenes of a boy with autism going about his daily life, at school, home, and horseback riding. The video also features an actress portraying the boy’s mother, depicting the daily stresses and joys of raising a child with autism. In one scene, she seems upset as sorts through a pile of bills, not realizing that her child is sitting on the staircase watching her. The video also shares a tender moment between mother and son as she gives him his medication, and later we see her looking on in pride as he rides a horse.

While most parents of children with autism see the song as a loving tribute, others take issue with Orr’s portrayal of autism as a “prison.” One fan commented on Orr’s Facebook page,

“‘Autism is like a prison?’ Seriously? It is clear that you haven’t spoken with any autistic people. I suggest that you do so, and that you also research the concept of neurodiversity. Promoting the idea that autistic are less-than, or damaged in some way, is harmful and dangerous.”

Another fan stated,

“The simple criticism is that the tone set by the lyrics is one of despair and anguish. There are people in the autism community who view autism as a disease (something to be treated with a cure). They view autism as equal to cancer. This is a very negative way to raise a child with autism.

“The child is raised with a false belief that it is “bad” or “wrong” to have autism. And many parents of autistic children choose not to raise their child so negatively.”

Others saw no problem with the lyrics. One mother wrote,

“I have no problem with the lyrics to the song stating ‘Autism is like a prison,’ . . . it can be! Some children have a hard time expressing themselves, which can be seen like being in prison. It’s simply a metaphor, nothing more.”

A portion of all proceeds from We’ll Get By will be donated to local autism charities. Watch the video and add your comments below.

  • Tina says:

    The lyrics were right on because autism is like a prison , because some kids won’t let you in thier minds and others can’t speak what they want to say . I have a 12 yr old autistic so. And it’s hard to get in his mind . Thanks for this song

  • Wendy Moser says:

    As a mother of a daughter with autism I love the song.

  • Kim Jenior says:

    For SEVERE autism this song is appropriate. The anguish and torment my son displays at times because he cannot communicate to me is just heart breaking. Yes….Autism is a prison at times for him. But he is a beautiful boy and perfect to me. Autism is what he has not who he is. I appreciate that this song was written with heartfelt good intention in to recognize Autism Awareness and I think many can relate. Severe Autism is a whole other world and often hidden from the general public because often these families cannot leave home for fear of their child fleeing, hurting themselves or their family members. The children and adults that are affected severely cannot respond to this article or song because of their inability to read or write or verbalize their feelings.

  • Kayla says:

    As a mother to a 3 year old boy with autism, I completely agree with the lyrics in this song. My son gets so frustrated when I don’t know what he needs, but he can’t tell me. It sometimes does seem like a prison. He knows what he wants to say, but he can’t. It’s locked inside. I do not view my child as damaged. I appreciate all of his differences and I wouldn’t want him any other way.

  • Amazing song with a message. As a grandmother of 2 Autistic Angels I can relate to this song. There’s a “Window of Autism” which is a time where you can pull them through that window giving them the skills to do and become anything they choose. We were among the fortunate. Both of my granddaughters are highly intelligent, beautiful in person and spirit, role models, compassionate, and advocates of Autism. They are straight A students with goals and aspirations. After years and numerous hours of in home therapy, in-school therapy, and a strong family and friendship support group they are Amazing Autistic young ladies who are very highly active in their communities. I can’t say it was easy, but it was worth every moment in therapy, and every tear she’d throughout their journey through life at this point that we will never regret.
    Terri Dueboay

  • What a beautiful song and what a terrific person

  • Terri Dueboay says:

    My husband is a Singer-Songwriter. So, maybe I view the lyrics of the song differently than someone not familiar with different methods of song writing. It can be a parody of sorts where one word is used one way, but it is written structurally to sound like what you hear all the while it is intended to be something totally different on purpose. Anyone that has any type of experience with an Autistic person can draw their own picture of what they see through that experience and try to write their vision of what they see. Their opinion may not even seem close to what is behind the Autism of an of divdidual or they may be seeing exactly what is going on within the Autism of that person. I have 2 Amazing Autistic Angels as my precious, intelligent, talented, we’ll spoken granddaughters. Coonsidering where they are now because of the amazing full time networking with Ocupational, Physical, and Speech therapy for many long hours 3 to 5 hours a day, 5 or 6 days a week they weren’t left in that “Prison of Autism” , Spectrum of Autism. Not to mention that every moment spent with them by their mom, my husband, my husband, and a good network support of family and friends it was a never ending effort of every minute spent with them that was therapeutic and geared to pulling them out of that prison, or what we call “The Window of Autism”. We weren’t about to let them slip 1 inch deeper into the crevice of their disability. Calling guys it a “Prison” is just another way of saying lost ng “lost in their Autism without having no way of bringing themselves out of it. It was what I see as just an analogy of what the songwriter had been ask to write. Don’t shoot the messenger/ songwriter down because of an analogy describing how lost and trapped they are if they are not pulled out of “The Window of Autism”. It was just like a prison being locked in their Autism for my granddaughters , until we found just the right key that would free them from not being able to express their wants and needs while locked in a space they couldn’t find a way themselves to be able to express their wants and needs and be understood. If those of us that don’t have be Autism could talk, show, or express our needs and feelings towards others, we would be just as lost and locked in our own little world as those with Autism. To me, my vision is that whether you say “Prison” or “locked in our/their own little world” is just exactly saying the same thing. We shouldn’t take take offense to someone else’s interpretation of a word or a situation. The author of this song wrote the song as the tribute he was to asked to write and in the viewpoint he was asked to write it in. I thought the song was brilliantly written. It certainly felt like we were trying to break into a prison of Autism and free them, not so they could live in our world, but…so that we could live in their world. It’s an amazing little world if you just work hard enough to free them and be invited into it. We were the lucky ones. For now we live in their world and it is a great place, because we didn’t turn our backs to a locked door with no key In sight. My oldest granddaughter out of the two loves the song and hopes that she will one day be lucky enough to sing this and to share her experience when we kept trying get until we found the right key to unlock the door to her little world. And she would have nevrer have quit helping us find the key to her little sisters world. We did find that key also and her little world is just as awesome as her big sisters is. Great song!

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