Autism rock band The AutistiX go on tour to Spain

Luke Steels; Jack Duggan-Beavan; Saul Zur Szpiro A group of 15 will travel to Spain to help The AutistiX on their first tour

Related Stories

A group of north London musicians who have overcome extraordinary obstacles are about to embark on their first international tour.

The members of The AutistiX, as the name suggests, all have autism, but they have not let any of their disabilities get in the way of a tour in Spain and recording their first album.

Luke Steels, 17, electric guitar and bass, Jack Beavan-Duggan, 18, electric guitar, and Saul Zur-Szpiro, 20, on the drums, practice at least once a week and have played gigs including the Beatles Day in Hastings, but this will be the first time they have gone on tour.

Saul's mum, and band manager, Susan Zur-Szpiro, said: "They started producing their own music and creating these very beautiful, quite biographical songs.

Saul Zur-Szpiro Saul needs help with day-to-day functions but drums for the band

"It's not about getting the sympathy reaction, they just happen to have their disabilities which makes them interesting and quirky as an act."

Jack, the lyricist, penned songs including The Good and Bad in All of Us and Hard to Reach and says music is about "writing songs and showing who I am".

Carol Povey, the director of the Centre for Autism, said: "Autism is a social and communication difficulty and affects the way people interact with other people and the world around them.

"Some people will have very high support needs, no language or communicative ability and challenging behaviour, right the way through to people who have very high IQs but may struggle to relate to other people.

"You wouldn't normally think of people working together [like The AutistiX] and I think it's fabulous and it really blows apart most people's expectations."

The Camden-based group who are joined on stage by Jack's father John, Saul's dad Michael and musician Jim Connelly, will play three gigs with Spanish group Motxila 21 who all have Down's syndrome between 24 and 30 May.

But The AutistiX have come a long way to get there.

John Duggan; Luke Steels; Jack Beaven Duggan;; Saul Zur-Szpiro; Michael Zur-Szpiro; and Jim Connelly The band will play their gigs in Pamplona, Durango and Getaria during their bank holiday tour

Mrs Zur-Szpiro said: "My son could really do nothing, he was blind, he couldn't move, he was really very low-functioning so we just took it a step at a time and he's way beyond anyone's expectations.

"He can't dress himself, he can't feed himself and can't look after his own basic needs but he's the drummer and it's mostly learning through his auditory skills, he hears something and he knows it."

Before The AutistiX set off on tour there were a lot of things to consider including the fact that they would be relocating each day.

"Change is an issue because they like the familiar and they can be thrown by anything changing", Mrs Zur-Szpiro said.

"I'm very aware of the sensitivities and so we're doing all the major transitions during the day so they adjust and see it [each town], each of them have a parent or carer with them so they have that continuity and we've looked at YouTube so they know what Motxila 21 look like.

The AutistiX performing on stage The band does not suffer from stage fright no matter how big the crowd is

"We are embarking a little bit into the unknown and it's going to be hard work but it should be amazing."

As well as musical experiences there are other benefits for The AutistiX too.

The manager said: "They lack a normal peer group and this band has been amazing in providing a social network for them, they're the centre of each others lives.

"And there's no drinking and drugs going on, that just doesn't happen."

Butterflies and Demons

The AutistiX also have a natural ability on stage which many performers might be envious of - they do not get stage fright.

Mrs Zur-Szpiro said: "Sometimes they've performed in front of several hundred people, but they don't have any concept of being judged. He [Saul] loves being up on the stage and has music in every cell of his body."

The band will play their gigs in Pamplona, Durango and Getaria and once they return to London they will be looking forward to releasing their first EP, Butterflies and Demons, which they recorded at EMI Roundhouse in February.

And although they might be a "quirky" rock band Mrs Povey, added: "The important thing is the audience is not looking at the disabilities and not looking at what they can't do, but looking at what they can do."

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

BBC London

Weather

London

19 °C 11 °C

BBC Local Live

  1.  
    Armed robbers 'scared off by victims' 13:40:

    Two armed burglars who tried to rob a family of their valuables were chased off empty-handed by their intended victims, reports the Sutton Guardian.

    The hooded men with covered faces were carrying silver hand guns, and broke into the house on Benfleet Close, in Sutton, close to midnight on Saturday, but their intended victims fought back and forced them out of the house.

     
  2.  
    Chinatown sculpture unveiled 13:29:

    A 20ft sculpture has been unveiled in Chinatown's Gerrard Place, commissioned by Chinatown Arts Space and Shaftesbury plc, to help recreate the area as "a creative hub for Chinese & East Asian arts".

    Gerrard Place sculpture

    Entitled Flowing, the sculpture was created by Singaporean artist Chua Boon Kee and is heavily influenced by nature and Eastern philosophy.

     
  3.  
    Enfield's £50m housing project 13:17:

    Enfield Council has announced a new £50m retail and housing development in Ponders End that would provide 88 affordable homes.

    The Electric Quarter Scheme, in Enfield's town centre, will provide an additional 160 homes for open market sale, with work due to start on the scheme in 2015.

     
  4.  
    News on the hour 13:00:

    On BBC London 94.9 at 13:00:

    • Police investigating the disappearance of 14-year-old Alice Gross are to ask their Latvian counterparts for more information about their main suspect, Arnis Zalkalns, who it is suspected could be in his home country
     
  5.  
    Ozil: 'Nothing to prove' 12:37:

    Arsenal playmaker Mesut Ozil says he has nothing to prove to anyone after his Arsenal display this weekend, but accepts he will always be an easy target for the critics.

    Mezut Ozil

    The German World Cup winner gave a commanding display in the 3-0 demolition of Aston Villa on Saturday, scoring the first goal and creating the second for Danny Welbeck, but has been under constant scrutiny since signing for the Gunners in September 2013.

     
  6.  
    Alice Gross: River searched 12:28:

    Two van loads of police are continuing the search for missing teenager Alice Gross at the River Brent in Hanwell.

    Forensic officers are bagging rubbish next to the river as four more policemen search the river bed, more than three weeks after Alice went missing by the Grand Union Canal in west London.

     
  7.  
    Old Oak consultation begins 12:19:

    Transport for London (TfL) has launched its consultation into the Old Oak station planned for west London, which is needed to link the London Overground, Crossrail and HS2 rail services.

    The new connections are needed to support the London Mayor's vision for 24,000 new homes and 55,000 new jobs in west London, with local regeneration expected to open up jobs in the area to 250,000 more people, according to TfL.

     
  8.  
    Walkie Talkie from above 12:07:

    It's London Air Ambulance week, and our reporter Andy Dangerfield has been taken to the skies over the capital by one of the air ambulance crews.

    Thankfully he remembered his camera...

    Walkie Talkie
     
  9.  
    News on the hour 11:58:

    On BBC London 94.9 at 12:00:

    • Politicians on all sides at City Hall have welcomed a call by London's Transport Commissioner for urgent investment in new buses and train lines and an end to inflation-busting fare rises
     
  10.  
    Travel 'riot' talk 'unhelpful' 11:50:

    Val Shawcross, transport spokesperson for the London Assembly Labour Group, has criticised comments from London's Transport Commissioner suggesting "social unrest" could be caused by low-paid workers being unable to travel to work.

    She called his comment "as incendiary as it is unhelpful", adding: "We get enough bluster from Boris Johnson, what Londoners need is to see action to prevent the transport system becoming overloaded and unaffordable."

     
  11.  
    Friendships 'harder in London' 11:36:

    A survey of Londoners and New Yorkers found meeting people is harder in the British capital than the Big Apple.

    London skyline

    A survey of over 1,000 'young urbanites' in both cities found that three quarters of New Yorkers thought it was difficult to meet people in their city, compared to 80% in London, according to friend-finding network citysocializer.

     
  12.  
    'Illegal immigrants' arrested on M25 11:25:

    Police have arrested 13 suspected illegal immigrants on the M25 after they were seen running from the back of a lorry.

    The suspects were detained between junctions 12 and 13 during rush-hour traffic, said Surrey police.

     
  13.  
    'Fighting dogs' cause playground damage 11:14:

    Enfield Council plans to install CCTV cameras to catch those responsible for "wrecking" a new children's playground installed last month.

    The council said it believes "extensive vandalism" is being caused by "the owners of fighting dogs who are training their animal by making them hang off the equipment by their jaws", and plans to increase guard and police patrols in the area to catch the culprits.

     
  14.  
    Video: London hospital's 'eye bank' 11:07:
  15.  
    News on the hour 10:58:

    On BBC London 94.9 at 11:00:

    • London's Transport Commissioner warns bus and Tube fares can't continue to rise at the rate they have been, and if they do there could be "social unrest"
     
  16.  
    War memorial restored 10:48:

    Locals in Waltham Forest have restored a 'forgotten' war memorial 70 years after residential buildings were destroyed by World War Two bombing, reports the Waltham Forest Guardian.

    In December 1944, six buildings in Walthamstow's Callonfield Estate were destroyed in an attack from the air, but the memorial to residents killed in the attack became neglected for decades on disused land.

     
  17.  
    'More strikes' due for Underground 10:39:

    London Underground workers are due to launch a fresh wave of industrial action in a long-running row over ticket office closures.

    King's Cross

    The RMT union said that despite months of talks with London Underground, the company remained "hell-bent" on carrying out a programme of ticket office closures and job cuts.

     
  18.  
    Lampard love story over - Mourinho 10:29:

    Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho said there was nothing emotional about Frank Lampard's goal against the Blues, and insisted the "love story" finished when the midfielder joined Manchester City.

    The 36-year-old former England international, who left Chelsea in the summer, came off the bench to equalise in the 1-1 draw at Etihad Stadium.

     
  19.  
    Soho 'most expensive for travellers' 10:19:

    Soho is the most expensive London district for travellers to stay in, according to a new survey.

    The average hotel price a visitor needs to pay is higher in Soho than in 19 other London districts, said CheapRooms.co.uk.

     
  20.  
    British Museum recreated for Minecraft 10:09:

    The British Museum in London - complete with all of its exhibits - is to be recreated in the video game Minecraft.

    Artefacts In The British Museum's Winning At The Ancient Games Exhibition The British Museum has a collection of eight million objects

    The project is part of the Museum of the Future scheme, which aims to expand the institution's appeal.

     
  21.  
    News on the hour 09:58:

    On BBC London 94.9 at 10:00:

    • Criminal gangs have started organising gay weddings to help illegal immigrants get a UK passport, according to a BBC investigation
     
  22.  
    Have your say 09:52:

    What do you think of BBC Local Live? We'd like your feedback about this service.

     
  23.  
    Pellegrini criticises 'small team' Chelsea 09:41:

    Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini said Chelsea played like a "small team" during yesterday's 1-1 draw and criticised their defensive style.

     
  24.  
    More powers for City Hall? 09:33:

    In the wake of the Scottish "No" vote, devolving more power to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland has been pushed up the political agenda - so could City Hall and the London Assembly get extra powers?

     
  25.  
    Alice Gross: Police probe suspect's conviction 09:22:

    Police investigating the disappearance of 14-year old schoolgirl Alice Gross will ask their Latvian counterparts for more information about the murder conviction of suspect Arnis Zalkalns.

    Alice Gross

    Officers want to know about the murder of Mr Zalkalns' wife, for which he was found guilty and spent time in prison before coming to the UK.

     
  26.  
    Overcrowding 'could spark riots' 09:08:

    London could see riots again unless more trains and buses are provided at affordable fares for the poorest communities as the population soars, the city's transport commissioner Sir Peter Hendy has told The Guardian newspaper.

    He said the city will face "overwhelming" overcrowding on its congested transport networks by 2030 without urgent progress on new rail lines.

     
  27.  
    News on the hour 08:57:

    On BBC London 94.9 at 09:00:

    • London's Transport Commissioner has warned of Mumbai-style overcrowding if there isn't urgent investment in more buses and trains - and of "social unrest" if people can't afford to use them
     
  28.  
    Alice suspect 'could be in Latvia' 08:47:

    Latvian police have said a convicted murderer wanted over the disappearance of London schoolgirl Alice Gross could be in the eastern European country - but has not entered by plane.

    Arnis Zalkalns

    Arnis Zalkalns has been named as prime suspect in the hunt for Alice, 14.

     
  29.  
    On air 08:38: Vanessa Feltz Presenter, BBC London 94.9

    On BBC London 94.9 from 09:00, Vanessa unpicks claims from the Transport Commissioner that London could see "social unrest" unless more buses and trains are provided at affordable fares. Tell us about your journey to work. Call 020 7224 2000.

     
  30.  
    Gay weddings targeted for UK citizenship 08:27: Zack Adesina BBC Inside Out, London

    Same-sex marriages were made legal in March this year but within weeks of the legislation coming into effect, criminal gangs were touting sham gay weddings to those wanting to dodge immigration controls.

    Gay marriage ceremony

    Inside Out London went undercover to expose the fraud and discovered one gang that organises sham gay marriages for £10,000. Watch the full story tonight at 19:30 on BBC One.

     
  31.  
    Top headlines
  32.  
    Travel 08:18: Louise Pepper Journalist, BBC London

    South West trains are disrupted through Vauxhall after a person was hit by a train.

    On the M1, there are reports of a six-vehicle collision southbound between London Gateway services and Fiveways Corner.

    And there are queues on the A40 eastbound from the M40 at Denham to Gypsy Corner, not helped by a broken down vehicle at Hanger Lane.

    For more travel news, visit BBC London's travel website. or follow us on Twitter @BBCLondonTravel

     
  33.  
    Chilly start, warm later 08:08:

    It will be a fine and dry day with some good sunny spells. After a chilly start it will feel quite pleasant in the sunshine and the winds will turn light by the afternoon. Maximum temperature: 19C (66F).

    Weather chart
     
  34.  
    08:00: Matthew Bell BBC News, London

    Good morning. I'll be bringing you all the latest news, sport, travel and weather from London today for BBC Local Live.

    You can send your news, pictures and comments to london.locallive@bbc.co.uk or on Twitter @BBCLondonNews

     

Features

  • FlagsNational identity

    After the referendum, have two Scotlands emerged?


  • Two sphinxes guarding the entrance to the tombTomb mystery

    Secrets of ancient burial site keep Greeks guessing


  • Tattooed person using tabletRogue ink

    People who lost their jobs because of their tattoos


  • Two people holding up the newly discovered head of Mithras, 1954Roman puzzle

    How to put London's mysterious underground temple back together


BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.