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Benalla father raising profile of autism through music

Adam Toms will donate profits from the sale of his new single to Autism Spectrum Australia, after his son was diagnosed with the disorder.

MONIQUE FREER April 23, 2014 3:19am

Adam Toms with his son Mitchel, who has autism.


A Benalla singer is combining his passion and life experience to raise the profile of autism spectrum disorders.

Adam Toms will donate the proceeds of the next six months of download sales of his single I Wouldn’t Change A Thing to Autism Spectrum Australia (Aspect).

Autism spectrum disorder is a lifelong developmental disability that affects, among other things, the way an individual relates to his or her environment and their interaction with other people.

The issue is one close to his heart, with his eldest son Mitchel, five, diagnosed with autism and his youngest son Riley, three, having started the diagnostic process.

‘‘When the subject first came up about Mitchel I didn’t know or have a clue about what autism was and in speaking since that time to a lot of parents in the same situation, that’s what tends to be the same response,’’ Mr Toms said.

‘‘For me to spread the word a bit more about what autism is ... that’s why it’s important. It’s a subject that should be commonly known.’’

Mr Toms wrote the track — the fourth from his album Rich Man— when Mitchel was in the middle of the ‘terrible twos’ and he and his wife, Jo, were questioning their parenting ability.

‘‘We had a good couple of years scratching our heads thinking we were just lousy parents and it wasn’t until the kindergarten called us in to bring to our attention some common behavioural and sensory traits that we started the diagnosis process,’’ Mr Toms said.

‘‘I wrote this song about a young fella going through terrible twos in what we thought was a really bad case, but as it turns out what we were experiencing was the onset or early stages of (autism).’’

Since the diagnosis the Toms family has formed a relationship with Autism Spectrum Australia, the leading supplier of services for children with an autism spectrum disorder and other disabilities.

It is estimated that one in 100 people have autism spectrum disorder — nearly 230000 Australians — and it affects nearly four times as many boys than girls.

Mr Toms said having a child with autism taught him to embrace other ways of communicating.

‘‘Most kids who are autistic, they have a different way of explaining things, you might say that it is black but they may say it’s white so you have to teach them to realise that it’s not actually white,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s learning how to understand how they’re thinking because in a lot of ways it’s a bit different to what people without autism think.’’

This month is world autism awareness month, and Mr Toms has been kept busy increasing awareness of the disorder.

Last Friday he travelled to Sydney to perform I Wouldn’t Change A Thing as part of the pre-match entertainment in the National Rugby League match between Manly Sea Eagles and North Queensland Cowboys.

To coincide with World Autism Awareness Day on April 2, Mr Toms began donating all single download sales of the track to Autism Spectrum Australia. He will continue donating the single download sales for the next six months, along with $10 from all physical Rich Man album sales.

He will also be running a raffle for the next three months, in which the major prize is a Maton M225 guitar.

Albums can be purchased at www.adamtoms.com and the associated video clip — made by Mr Toms in a three-month labour of love — can be viewed at http://bit.ly/1qXkp6a

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