James R, age 4

Photograph by Crush Rush (2023)
James is a happy kid with a smile on his face and endless amounts of energy. He loves learning, and constantly seeks a challenge. When he was two-and-a-half years old, he spelled out his name with alphabet puzzle pieces. He continues to enjoy reading, music, math, and learning about space.

James shocked his parents when he played Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star on his toy piano at age two and a half. He taught himself to play piano and soon after he was playing classics by Gershwin, Tchaikovsky, and Beethoven which he had heard in the Disney movie Fantasia. At three years old, his parents found out he has perfect pitch. He soon started piano lessons at the University of South Carolina with Dr. Scott Price through the Carolina Lifesong Initiative. Seeing him demonstrate such focus during his piano recitals on the big stage at the USC Recital Hall are amazing moments says his mom, Ashley. “Music has changed his life and given him confidence.”

Music therapy has motivated James to accomplish daily living activities. He has a diagnosis of autism and has worked hard to get where he is now. Social skills have been a challenge, but he is beginning to create a strong bond with his little brother and his older sister. He is also starting to form peer friendships and is cheering on others in class.
“James is a genuine and innocent person who inspires us every day” says Ashley. “We believe one day, through his music, he will be an inspiration to many others!”
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Family Connection of South Carolina provides services and resources to families who have a child with a disability or specialized healthcare need. Since 1990 we have served more than 100,000 families and today our services are needed more than ever. We focus on parent-to-parent support, guidance with navigating the complex healthcare system, and assistance with school meetings and special education plans.