Whelan’s Story:


Music is the universal language and it’s the first language our son, Whelan understood.  At 2.5 years old, when he was diagnosed with autism, he could speak to label and count, but didn’t understand pragmatic conversational speech. We used music – David Lee Roth’s “Just a Gigolo” to be exact – to teach him the give and take of conversation.  During his preschool and elementary years, music therapy helped him with everything from fine muscle to behavioral control.  When Whelan felt emotions too strong to talk through with us…he would write a song and sing them to us. Fast forward 11 years and we moved our family 3,000 miles to the Boston area for better educational opportunities.  It was a very, very rough year for Whelan, who left all his friends and activities back in California.


Once he was placed in a Plugged In band, he fit into the routine of playing music and learning how to act as a team member; not the easiest task for a kid with autism, but his love of music helped him surmount the difficulties and even excel.  Plugged In became an anchor for Whelan in his new home. We can’t say enough good things about Plugged In and the staff. Even on Whelan’s bad days, he’s surrounded by supportive adults who help him with what’s needed to recover and stay on track. 


By allowing our son to be involved in music, to find his tribe in a new state, and to be involved in his new community, the Plugged In Band Program has made all the difference in our son’s and our family’s lives.


Whelan’s Parents

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