- Connect to neurodivergent people through music and technology by using music to spread core concepts of neurodiversity and a positive perspective of autism and in the process, eliminate the stigma of mental illness.
- Introduce people to sensory tools and sensory-interactive music tools to help them express themselves creatively and regulate themselves in new and thought-provoking ways.
- Run a nonprofit record label that will give autistic artists an outlet to express themselves in meaningful ways.
HISTORY OF C4A:
Chiptunes 4 Autism is a passion project and fundraising nonprofit started in 2015 by an autistic dad named Gustuf Young (aka Oddioblender, Asperkraken). He grew up around autism his whole life with a nonverbal sister, autistic nephew, a wife diagnosed as neurodivergent while young and his own son who was diagnosed around age 3 before learning he, himself, was autistic.
After becoming interested in chiptune and synthesizer music, he realized there were many people out there who, like him, were autistic and expressed themselves more clearly in music. After reading about another chiptune artist’s revelation of their own autism, artists from across the chiptune spectrum, from as far as Indonesia to England to North America, joined forces to create music for compilations that we now distribute through Bandcamp and other services, all for the sake of promoting autism positivity, the concepts of neurodiversity and empowering people on the spectrum.
In 2017, various people joined us for live showcases to raise money on the spot for many great autism charities as, at the time, we were new and wanted our money to do things immediately. We started in bars with this approach but quickly moved to festivals like MagFest (where we were proud of a lineup that featured transgender and non-AFAB artists) and ArlingCon to reach a wider variety and more diverse group of people. Our first sensory table was in actuality, a happy accident. New to a con scene and with an empty table, we decided to put out our instruments and gear for people to play with. It was a huge hit and gave us an idea. We continued with this idea at the Dallas Museum of Art and found we were interacting with hundreds of people an hour – and found we could spread the concepts of neurodiversity ourselves with music and our sensory/play tables as a magnet to bring people in and then introduce them to new ideas of sensory regulation, interaction and creative thought for people who otherwise may not have access or knowledge of such resources.
We now feature these tables at all ages shows and people come in for the sound and visuals – and many stay for the interaction at our tables, where they get to experience musical toys and maker culture firsthand to learn about neurodivergence from actual neurodivergent people. We have sensory tools on-hand to show people what they have at their disposal to deal with things when they are overloaded. We bring tools to empower people on the spectrum and to educate those who are willing to learn. Come for the show, stay for the knowledge! (And some fun auditory exploration / interaction!)
THE LONG RUN
It may help people to know where we are headed next. It helps to see – and have – a horizon to aim for as progress doesn’t happen by just repeating the same thing over and over. Our goals:
- We are aiming to become our own 501(c)(3) inevitably.
- We will continue to support other organizations that support our ideals while building our own presence.
- We hope to release individual releases by artists, give them a fair share, and hopefully help some autistic people learn about indie music by hiring them to be hands in the process, whether through music, promotion, distribution or mechandise, and paying them a fair wage and giving them work experience, even it is part-time.
- We also hope to branch out into non-chiptune genres, inevitably.
- Create a co-op studio with community equipment that allows anyone of any capacity and need to utilize said equipment for expression, performance and creative means.
- Build our sensory tables and become a staple of the Texas con scene and, perhaps inevitably, the entire continental US, to spread our message to the most people as possible.
- Yes, these are lofty goals. But no one makes an ambition that’s easy.
THE BOTTOM LINE
We are small but we have a lot of heart. If you’re autistic, we want you to know the ways you can express yourself. If you just want to help, we are glad to have you here. And if you just like listening, that’s great too. Thanks for being here. You are incredible.