A few weeks ago Bilal Oliver released a video to the song, “Little Ones” a loving ode to his sons that appears on his latest album, Airtight’s Revenge. Bilal used the accompanying video as an opportunity to address an issue that is dear to his heart, Autism. His oldest son Bashir was diagnosed with the illness when he was around four years old and Bilal has been very active in the movement to raise awareness.
“I just wanted to do a song for the fathers,” Bilal told TheUrbandaily.com. “People always write songs from a mom’s perspective or to their moms. This is something I did for my children.”
Autism is a developmental disorder that appears in the first three years of life, and affects the brain’s normal development of social and communication skills. While there are varying degrees of autism some of the symptoms include difficulty with verbal and nonverbal communication or delays in social interaction. While there are theories about its origins, the causes of Autism are widely unknown.
“My son is high functioning so he deals with a lot of sensory overload and high energy,” says Bilal. “I do a lot of things to calm him down. I changed his diet. He’s on an all-gluten free diet. I’ve also introduced different exercises and music to help him. I have him playing the drums so it allows him to get out a lot of his energy. It also teaches him focus and rhythm.”
In 2010 Bilal participated in a walk on the National Mall in D.C. for Autism awareness and performed the song “Little Ones” for the audience. But he said the best part of the trip was the opportunity to meet with other parents of autistic children.
“It was also cool to talk to other parents and see their methods and what they go through with their child,” he says. “For us to share…it was an inspiring type of thing that was needed for all of us.”
The video for “Little Ones” follows a family who has just found out their son is autistic and their reaction to it. While it is a bit intense Bilal doesn’t intend for it to be a downer.
“A lot of it is their initial reaction to how it affects a family,” he explains. “I think it starts out as a grieving period but then you start to understand the child and figure out ways to help them and then it’s very rewarding.”
Bilal has seen a lot of progress in his son who is now nine years old. The drumming lessons have helped with his coordination and his ability to multitask. Because Autism is still relatively new doctors don’t have a wealth of treatment options available. For many parents it takes patience and a supportive network to make it through.
“I really put myself out there on this because [I am a] young parent] and I know there are a lot of young parents who don’t know what is going on with their child,” he says. “Younger parents like myself chalk it up to just being a bad kid maybe. [But] a lot of the things you can help with depend on how soon you detect it.”
For more information on Autism go to Autismspeaks.org