Cheap Tricks’ Tom Petersson Helps Autistic Kids Through Rock Music
Rock band Cheap Trick has had a busy yet productive year in 2017. They released three studio albums, rigorous touring schedule, and their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
But bassist Tom Petersson, despite his hectic schedule, has even had the time to be involved in yet another project that he and his family have invested in. This project is called Rock Your Speech.
Rock Your Speech is co-founded by Tom’s wife, Alison, and it aims to use rock music to help kids with autism spectrum disorder. The project is close to the couple’s heart because of their experience with their own son, Liam, who only started communicating at age five.
“We love our son and we would like to help other parents know that they’re not alone,” Tom says of Rock Your Speech. He adds that he and his wife uses Rock Your Speech to share first-hand experiences on how they handled specific situations concerning their child with special needs.
A benefit concert was held to create awareness and at the same time gather funds for people with autism. The star-studded concert, which was held at Los Angeles’ Orpheum Theatre featured Cheap Trick, Dandy Warhols, the Empty Hearts, Red Kross and Johnette Napolitano of Concrete Blonde. Tom’s own Rock Your Speech band also performed together with actors Billy Bob Thornton and Ed Asner.
Concert proceeds were donated to the Autism Society of America and Rock Your Speech.
The Story of Rock Your Speech
The story behind Rock Your Speech began when Alison read a magazine article about a child with autism. She realized that the symptoms discussed in the article mirrored their son, Liam, who was only 18 months old at that time.
At 18 months, Liam was neither speaking nor sitting. Following this realization, the worried parents immediately brought Liam to a speech therapist but little Liam still did not speak until he was five.
A breakthrough came when Liam responded to Elton John’s “Blue Eyes”. From that moment, both Tom and Alison realized that music was the way to engage their son. The couple soon started doing songs for Liam and soon realized that the little boy loves rock music.
The Petersson’s project has so far yielded an album, Rock Your Speech Volume 1, with songs actually featuring rock music. No, it wasn’t the gentle, kid-fused type of sounds normally associated with children’s songs. The album comes with lyric videos, which feature how words are formed and mouthed.
“The songs have varying degrees of simplicity. They are simple, allowing kids of any age to sing along,” says Tom.
The Petersson’s Rock Your Speech has definitely turned a difficult situation for autistic children and their families into something positive.