The ten-year-old autistic girl sits at the piano for the first time in her life. She stretches her fingers, and takes a deliberate breath, precisely copying the preparation she has probably seen in a Youtube video.
And then she plays, with feeling, and without fault, her fingers falling on the keys, with such ease, like raindrops. And, as if that weren’t enough, the girl who struggles to speak, who will not hold a conversation, suddenly sings, and holds every note, perfectly. And from Bach to Bacharach there has rarely been a more beautiful melody. And the words she cannot say are finally flowing. And the eyes that will not look at you are brimming with joy.
At first relatives and friends come to see, and eventually she ends up on one of those TV talent shows, and Simon Cowell says, “It’s a big yes from me.” And everyone in the world marvels at this miracle.
That’s the movie version, anyway. The one that reinforces the well-worn trope that autism comes with a gift bag, usually some marvellous, mathematical ability. (After all, fundamentally, music is just maths.) Continue reading