Autism finds its rhythm

Luc Picard, young musician with Autism.

Rock for Autism is a concept found all over the world, and we need support to graduate to becoming a charity that supports as many of these folks as possible. Why? Because these are the people who remind us of our own humanity, and in our own humility we should work with them as we work with others,” says Guy Picard, a dad who is leading the second annual Rock for Autism festival.

Rock for Autism will be hosted in the tri cities area on Father’s Day, June 17.

A growing audience

Despite its short history, Rock for Autism has grown quickly and considerably since its founding. The event was originally inspired by a young autistic musician named Luc Picard, Picard’s son, who played music at the Paddlewheeler Pub in New Westminster during open mic nights. With the young musician’s growing popularity, his family and the Paddlewheeler Pub sought to attract other musicians with autism. Eventually, in 2017, the first Rock For Autism was held. Initially it featured three musicians with autism. The public response to the festival was so positive that founder Picard expanded the venue to take place at Rocky Point Park in Port Moody. This time around, over eight local bands, with clever names that are a play on autism like O.C./D.C., are expected to perform over a seven hour period.

“This year we start with a set featuring Au-star Luc Picard on guitar, along with Dirk and Richard from Retrosonics, and Steve Lindsay of Storm Surge on drums,” says Picard.

To a large extent the festival exists to highlight and showcase the remarkable but often overlooked talent that people with autism possess. According to the organization, there are 45000 adults living with autism, and 60% of this population are unemployed – even though many have the skill sets and motivation that are needed to be successful.

“Rock for Autism is in its early days, so our focus right now is on Autism Spectrum Disorder. It will be a natural thing for people with other developmental disabilities to approach us, and we expect to be thrilled and amazed as the future unfolds,” says Picard.

A good place to recruit

Rock for Autism’s mission is to bring attention to this issue as well as to provide training opportunities for organizations looking to hire individuals with autism and other intellectual disabilities. It also seeks to raise funds for the programs that are already in existence that help people with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) obtain and maintain paid employment.

This advocacy persists year round as does its fundraising activities.

“There are many win-win situations to look at where persons on the spectrum fit well and contribute not only to the bottom line but to the overall morale of the company,” says Picard.

To this end, the festival has partnered with Autism B.C., one of the oldest Autism advocacy organizations in Canada, and Lindsay Music.

Rock for Autism will be held at Rocky Point Park in Port Moody. Attendance is free of charge and donations can be made through the Rock for Autism website.

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