Does James Durbin Really Have Autism?

Fox / 19 Entertainment

James Durbin delivered another knockout performance tonight on American Idol, which included a rendition of Judas Priest’s “You’ve Got Another Thing Coming." His vocal range was once again impressive and other than some competition from Casey Abrams and Jacob Lusk, Durbin clearly outshined all of the other male contestants.  

As Durbin continues to press forward to the coveted American Idol "Top 13," the blogosphere has been buzzing in recent weeks about his similarities to last year’s runner up, Adam Lambert, his Tourrette’s Syndrome and his Asperger’s. Included in this chatter is speculation by some that Durbin may not be autistic at all and is only using his "autism" as a way to garner sympathy votes from both judges and viewers.

Even on our own site last week, in another story on Durbin, several comments were posted by someone using the handle "starsky299" that included the following:

"He will get pity votes for his Tourrett’s (sic), and that’s ok because lots of idols get pity votes, and he’s a good singer. But he shouldn’t get pity votes for autism when he really isn’t autistic. If he is, he has such a mild case of it, he’s practically normal. His facial twitches which got him teased isn’t normal… But that’s not the same thing as autism. People will say there are similarities and links to autism which is true, but he’s so high functioning it’s a non issue. I mean, the guy can do more than I can do and I’m not even autistic."

As someone who has a child with high functioning autism, it was very difficult not to be upset at the ignorance of such statements. First of all, it is unwise and irresponsible to question someone’s condition based on what is seen by a few minutes of television time. To compound matters, all episodes of American Idol so far have been taped, meaning producers have been able to cherry pick and edit unflattering characteristics that Durbin may have shown so far.

Aside from that is the bigger issue of what people think autism really is. Children on the higher end of the spectrum struggle with these issues on a daily basis and it takes a high profile person such as James Durbin to expose the misconceptions that currently exist among the general population.

Because of stereotypes and lack of awareness, autism is still a very confusing and misunderstood disorder, even for those related to someone on the autism spectrum. Later on, Starsky299 mentioned that his brother has "classic" autism, noting the following:

"My brother is truly, classically autistic and it truly holds him back. He can not cross the street without help because he can’t understand how traffic works."

While we certainly feel for starsky’s brother, he should not be defined by what holds him back. He should be defined by what he is capable of, including his unique gifts, abilities and personality. 

There are many people with Asperger’s Syndrome who are not diagnosed until adulthood and there are even some with moderate-to-severe autism who have not been properly screened or diagnosed. Autism is truly a "spectrum disorder" and not mutually exclusive to lower functioning individuals, nor is it reserved for those on the higher end of the spectrum. We are all part of the same family — it just happens that those who are affected experience the world in varying degrees, some more extreme than others.

As someone once told me, having autism is like being in a hurricane. Some happen to get the ferocious winds of an eye-wall, while others may only experience the feeder bands of the outer part of the storm. This does not change the fact that we all have been hit by a hurricane.

Certainly, we do not want to marginalize the challenges of those on the lower end of the spectrum as some cases are truly heart wrenching, but the truth is, having an autism spectrum disorder poses major challenges for all of those who are affected.

Hopefully, as awareness increases, more people will come to better understand those difficulties and eventually come to appreciate what James Durbin has been able to accomplish, which includes overcoming many challenges and obstacles to get where he is today.

78 Responses to Does James Durbin Really Have Autism?

  1. Alicia says:

    I have had to fight the school for my son who has the diagnosis of PDD-NOS. There are even teachers that walk around telling people behind my back that my son doesn’t really have autism. It’s so frustrating that people do not understand high functioning autism.

  2. Kimberly Brueggemann says:

    I was terrified my son would go untreated because he was “high-functioning.” At that time I was the only one that was concerned he might have autism. He was already receiving services through Easter Seals when I decided to ask his pediatrician for a referral to a neurologist. The pediatrician said to me, “Well, he has been making progress with Easter Seals and most autistics don’t make progress.” Thankfully, she went ahead a made the referral. Even on the “high-functioning” end, he struggles greatly. Nowadays, he’s 1-2 grades behind his peers academically but his biggest challenge is his behavior, especially in peer-relationships. And to make matters worse, he’s aware enough to know that other kids “have friends” and go to sleepovers and that nobody ever asks him.

  3. I guess I’m just not surprised at what people will say.. much like the comments tonight on the Parenthood fan page.. someone posted that parents should just explain that some behavior is inappropriate..

    Also.. sympathy vote would be if he had no talent .. this kid has talent..

    Love your blog!!

  4. Great post Michelle! James has obviously been surrounded by a terrific mom and sisters and now a gorgeous girlfriend, who would all have been instrumental in helping him create strategies to cope with his difference. It’s the reason why early diagnosis is so important. My son is now 25 and just graduated from University. He still has ASD, but he has developed the coping skills that come from the love, patience and understanding of family and teachers. What a shame these young people, after all they have had to deal with when growing up then have to deal with more judgment as they get older. How wonderful for him that he has got this far. Fabulous story!

  5. carol brannaka says:

    This is the same sort of person who says the rape victim is lying……whoever is writing this nonsense obviously needs to educate themselves on PDD-NOS, HFA, AS atc before posting comments. Who are you to say that this young man is a liar ? That is one incredibly ignorant remark to make. I am so sick of people who behave this way, just because you cannot see HFA does not mean it isn’t there and it does not mean that any afflicted person does not struggle every day just to be who they are, largely because the world is too ignorant to understand them.

  6. Unfortunately, some Pediatricians are misdiagnosing and/or missing the traits of our ‘high functuining’ children on the Autism Spectrum. Child Development Specialist and other therapist can help with proper diagnosis, treatments and therapies. Have school put report and recommendations on file, even if they categorize the Student as Developmental Delay. Emphasize at esch IEP and Progress conference. AND Report any school personnel who are mocking the Parents valid assessments. Request written apologies for every incident, even if you have to seek yje help of the superintendent. If they are inconsiderate with a Parent, can you imagine how they are treating your child.

  7. Jennifer Neal says:

    My daughter has PDD which is on the Autism Spectrum and she is high functioning. She is 6 and can goes to a regular Kindergarten class, is very smart, in Ballet class and you wouldn’t know she had it if I didn’t tell you for the most part. But what people don’t know is that she didn’t learn to talk on her own, she didn’t reach any of the normal goals when she should have and not on her own. Speech Therapist taught her to talk. She has been in Speech, Occupational, Behavior Annalysis Therapy since just turning 3 yrs old and went to a special needs preschool. So she has reached the amazing acheivement now with lots of assistance and still has lots of help to stay on track. So what do we know about James Durbin and what his battles have been to overcome his disabilities to do what his passion is and share his amazing tallent with the world???

  8. Kelly Z says:

    I am fighting the prejudice and discrimination faced by high functioning autistics right now. My 3 year old son was diagnosed a year ago and is in the special ed ASD preschool program at our local elementary school. I have been getting criticized by parents of typical students and the school administration because DS does not “appear” to be disabled. It’s ignorance like this that James Durbin is forced to be facing in a very public forum. I pray that, in time, my son will be able to handle the world the way James Durbin seems to be!

  9. Kylyssa Shay says:

    James Durbin has autism. One in a hundred and fifty (or thereabouts) people have autism. Autism comes in all different levels of severity and type. Someone with autism was bound to show up on prime time television eventually.

    I also have autism. I am not as verbal as Durbin but I get along OK now, though not always and it’s been a tough road getting here. Also, autism doesn’t magically disappear upon adulthood nor are those with the most severe forms its only sufferers.

    Durbin has a strong family support system, something few people have these days. With so many Americans who don’t believe in autism or other disorders it makes it even harder. My autism went undiagnosed until I was seeking treatment for PTSD, PTSD which was caused by becoming homeless (and enduring the expected rapes, assaults with deadly weapons, beatings, and humiliations) upon adulthood- you guessed it- mostly due to being autistic and unable to cope.

    One out of every seventy boys and men (or thereabouts) is autistic. Why is it any surprise to encounter autistic people, especially autistic men?

  10. Aspie For Freedom says:

    I dont think he is on the spectrum. whether its High Functioning Autism or Aspergers. I know a few people on the spectrum and I have never seen someone with aspergers get so emotional. I dont think I have seen them cry at least not for being so happy.

  11. Aspie For Freedom says:

    also there is a difference between having aspergers and having high functioning autism..

  12. Grouchy Mark says:

    @Aspie…so basically you are calling James a liar? I’m sure if he is lying about his condition someone who really knows him would have surely called him out by now. What would he have to gain by making up the fact that he has Aspergers?? Wouldn’t his Tourrette’s be enough to play the “sympathy” card?? Your theory doesn’t make any sense.

  13. Susan says:

    I have a son with Asperger’s and a son who has high functioning autism (they’re twins). The main difference between them is that my Asperger’s son is very emotional (yes he cries for all different reasons) and demonstrative and has an obsessive interest while his brother is emotionally withheld, doesn’t like to be touched, and his special interest can’t be described as an obsession.

    I think we get into trouble when we try to identify forms of autism based upon perceived traits. Our kids with autism are like snowflakes, complex, intricate and each utterly unique.

  14. Sara says:

    I love the comments that are being left on this thread! I also have a child who has Aspergers and is very high functioning. He is 5 and in regular Kindergarten. Although he is high functioning like James appears to be, his struggles are very real and the areas that are hard for him will always exist. It is only through support and training that he can learn to function through and inspite of the challenging areas. Jennifer is so right when saying that we have no idea what it has taken him to arrive at this point. I wish more people would educate themselves on ASD! Just like their “typical” peers people on the spectrum are all individuals and not two of them will look, act or react the same. I am so proud of James, he is an inspiration to our kids who also love music and have this dream!

  15. Sara says:

    Susan – I totally agree! My son is also very emotional. He does cry when he is happy. His obsession at the moment is the game Angry Birds so his Grammy made him the set, when she gave them to him he was so happy he CRIED! I love how you compared them to snowflakes and the reality is we are all like snowflakes, there are not two humans that are exactly alike. That is the beauty of it all.
    Aspie for freedom – To question the authenticity of someone elses journey on the spectrum by comparing it to the “few people on the spectrum” that you know is very narrow minded. This kind of thinking is what creates predjudice and makes life harded for those on the spectrum.

  16. Susan says:

    Thanks Sara.

    I know James Durbin signed on for a singing contest, but he is provoking a great deal of beneficial discussion by putting himself out there as he has.

  17. glitterbabe says:

    Come on people…don’t fall for it…don’t support James…he’s trying to copy Adam Lambert, he’s not original. This year lets vote for someone unique and different , who have their own style…Casey or Jacob are just that and even though country music is not my type of music, Scotty is also a good example of a talented singer…. No one can compare to Adam Lambert so lets not get caught in the trap. Last years Idol was horrible…went to the concert…it was terrible, the area wasn’t even half full…much different than the year before with Adam…it was sold out. This is because along with Adam..they actually had people who could sing and entertain. Vote for originality!!!

  18. Debster says:

    Yes, it’s truly unfortunate how ignorance leads some people to make comments that are not based in reality. Autism has such a wide spectrum, and as you mention in your article, no matter where they are on the spectrum, people with autism need special attention and DO have difficulty functioning as the norm in our society. Some people with high-functioning autism can appear “normal” to most people they see, even on a regular basis…but if you look closely, you will notice behaviors that are different from what you might expect. Behavior/symptoms of autism are also very diverse, so there’s no way you can say “Oh, he can look someone in the eye” or “Oh, he talks to other people just fine” and think that it means someone does not have autism.

    Thank you for brining this matter to light.

  19. Yes, American Idol star James Durbin is a trailblazer! As Parents of an child on the Autism Spectrum,we still have dreams, goals and desires forour son to matriculate through college and be a productive VALUE-able contibutor to society. We recognize his interests in electronics, computers, building, nature , numbers, phonics, reading, hi-tech gadgets and sports. We will help him flourish just as James Durbin’s supporters have, just like any other caring Parents do.
    We are so proud of our 5 year old son who has attended various school, medical and community therapies DAILY since he was 3. We appreciate that he shows patience, enthusiasm, and and personal interests in: Speech/Language, Occupational Therapy, Adapted Physical Education, modified ABA, a preschool intervention program. Why? So he can ENJOY life as a ‘uniquely different’ child humble enough to endure so his neurotypical Parents and community can better inderstand, communicate and accept him. Why? Because he realizes that ‘P.A.L.S.-Play And Learn Social Skills’ after school, ‘Model Me Kids’ communication videos and ‘Committee for Children’ are helping him enjoy his schoolmates and friends. Why? Because coming in the last for the annual 2k FunRunWalk means all his athletic training and managing sensory processing issues are possible because he likes endurace walking.
    Please, do not judge or exclude ‘high finctioning’ Autism individuals. Imstead, lets advocate, embrace, understand, accept, and appreciate ALL pf their efforts.
    Good luck James Durbin…, you’ve got our American Idol votes! God Bless

  20. tmare says:

    I have taught many Asperger’s kids. Even among them, they are all truly unique and different. There is generally an inability to empathize, good to advanced mathematical ability and they tend to get stuck on one idea and are unable to focus on anything else. I have one student now who is undiagnosed and I am having a terrible time getting someone to pay attention. Social situations are difficult because they have a hard time taking cues from others. Many of them are just considered “weird” by teachers and peers. For many of them there is no discernible difference in them until you really pay attention. Awareness of the meaning of the word “spectrum” is key to public understanding. Maybe James Durbin can help the public with that.

  21. Susan says:

    I seriously doubt that James would have lied about his condition. It would be found out that he was not telling the truth and he would jepordize his chances to live his dream. It would be the worst thing he could do. He is surely telling the truth. His whole family would be in on the lie, and please! Stop this nonsense and let this young man do what he does best, and that is sing truly amazingly.

  22. Asemp says:

    It isn’t considered a “hidden disability” for nothing, and this nature is what makes it so disabling. People look and they see a normal person, and the types of characteristics that lead to a diagnosis of Asperger’s can be interpreted by most people as just being “a little eccentric” or “shy”. Most of the time NT’s will see shyness as something a person is responsible for, and that with some effort and skill they can overcome it – the reason is this perspective makes them feel great about their “skill”, and that they can do something someone else cannot. Gives them a bit of self-esteem.

  23. Hope says:

    I think it is horrible that people are judging him on not “being autistic enough.” My daughter has PDD-NOS and is high-functioning, but we struggle daily. Shame on those that think it is a “gimic” for pity votes.

  24. Lori says:

    Why are so many people all about looking at the negative…. Live and Let Live…Stop trying to find evil motives, instead enjoy the pureness of your fellow man!!

  25. John Lane says:

    I suggest that Starsky`s brother is not autistic-if he was he would understand traffic and rules of the road.When we Autists outperform NTs like Starsky they like to deny our Autistic identity-Neil Armstrong is Aspie and he did what no NT did before.
    Autistics-Stand Up And Fight For Your For Your Rights and Identity.

  26. Leeanne says:

    James doesn’t need to lie about a thing. He impresses me as totally real and natural and he has so much raw talent. This dude is going places. i love Steven Tyler’s reactions to James. He gets him too and yeah, I see the signs of Aspergers. It’s subtle but it’s there. All the more reason to admire this dude!

  27. Abby says:

    JAMES DURBIN DOES NOT HAVE ANYTHING CONSIDERED BAD AUTISM!!! he has Tourettes Syndrome (which i have) and he has asbergers which is an extremely high functioning autism. it just makes u think and c things differently, mentally.

  28. famous artist says:

    I am from Santa Cruz, California. I know several people who know James, or who have kids who went to school with James. As the story goes, James was bullied horribly for his afflictions. I am not sure if he is on medication or what his deal is. But I know that the tourettes and Aspergers (which was not even named until 1994) were very visable in James while he was in school. I have heard stories from too many people.

    I wish James well.

  29. mardi says:

    My son is autistic, to the right of mid-spectrum but not as far to the right as to borderline asperger’s. I must say that it’s every mother’s DREAM to hear a debate, especially a public one, over whether their kid truly has either disorder. With a child with autism and/or asperger’s (NOT THE SAME!!) we spend many years conditioning them to “act normal” to avoid discrimination, the kind of bullying James Durbin experienced, the sideways glances in the supermarket. You hope and pray they’ll have a chance to love someone, to live independently, to hold down a job, to have their own family. James Durbin is an inspiration, but he isn’t about his disorders, he’s all about that incredible talent and the drive to follow his dream. You go, James, fly as high as you can and we’ll watch in awe and hope we’ll follow you there…

  30. Dave says:

    I have 10 old twins with autism. They can voice any person they come in contact with TV or in person . They can also remember every word from tv shows. They re-enact the show after . It’s truly amazing . I don’t know what their future holds but they will always be autistic .

  31. LoveJames says:

    Dang!!! that kid blew me away and I did not know that he was autistic!!!! which at this point is no longer a factor.. I’m voting for him, because he SINGS!!!
    my oldest son was an undiagnosed Asperger’s and after spending his childhood walking on eggshelves, I worried that he could never adapt to the world. Once he was diagnosed and he figured out and understood why he was so “peculiar” he took over and now, at 25, he can function like most people. He has his issues, but also his talents… and once he is on his turf, he simply shines. To our delight singing is James Durbin’s turf!!!

  32. faye says:

    my son has tourettes, and I’m ashamed to say I punished him as a child for all the ticks he had, thinking he could control them! I was so relieved when a doctor finally put a label on his condition so we could began to understand what was happening! He is now 32 years old and a wonderful song writer in Nashville TN! he has taken his handicap and used it for good! he is extremely talented! he wants to start a organization to help kids with tourettes when he starts making money with his music!sure he has his issues to deal with like all of us,but he is a great person, has done well, and I’m very proud of him!!

  33. Allison says:

    Okay,, if this is what we have to do in our spare time, doubting what a person says as true,, then we need a life.. I believe James and we need to remember that autism is a SPECTRUM…. so I am not going to say whether i believe or not believe because it’s none of my business.. I have better things to do with my time..
    My son is high functioning autistic, he will be 8 in May, and all I can say to James is power to him!! and he is a phenomenal talent!! He gives me HOPE for my son if anything and makes the outlook a positive one for anyone that endures any challenge… God Bless You James : )

  34. Veronica says:

    For a long time there has been a big debate whether the term High Functioning Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome are the same thing. It really depends on the person but regardless of which way one looks at it, this disorder is still on the spectrum and unless they are quite severe leaning more over to what some recognize more as purely autistic it will be somewhat subtle. It is when instances like what happened to him on Idol that it becomes more recognizable…this bluntness and blurting out of things without thinking about it which others find offensive. It is a hallmark of the syndrome but not all are alike, some are more aware than others of things they are doing. Most have AD/HD along with it and many Tourette’s as well. I did not see what he says he has but got the Asperger’s end of it from posts. Why should he be disbelieved, many are quite good at various things and singing might very well be one of them for this particular person? Just because he is talented doesn’t rule out the disorder/disorders. I find it odd people are questioning this when “most” adults with this syndrome aren’t recognized to have anything unless you spend time around them, the bulk anyway. It is part of the spectrum and therefore since it is a “syndrome” can vary a lot from person to person. It isn’t exactly like A-typical autism on the spectrum. I think the problem is people have watched too many movies that tend to trend the more severe in autism. Many say that it is the Asperger’s folks that are inventing most of the electronic gadgets these days we are so fond of using. The fact that people are questioning it because he isn’t acting like they would suspect, is ludicrous. If not then why did he make a big faux pas? This is generally what happens, blurting out things without thinking and he is trying to make amends on Twitter but people are criticizing that as well. Does he have to show his medical records to have people stop messing with his rights? He told them ahead of time and then when something happened they said he used bad taste…hahaha, that alone is priceless in showing most people don’t have a clue and the Jacksons…shame, shame on you.

  35. Josephine says:

    James Durbin is an excellent singer. He’s really got soul. He should win the title this year. But, he doesn’t have Autism. No Way. Not even a touch. My son is 27 years old & has aspergers. I also work in a school with autistic teens.

  36. Jadesmom says:

    James does has autism.Aspergers is a form of autism.He is very high functioning. I love his singing,I love his personality. I hope he wins Idol

  37. Dawn says:

    All of you judging are not experts in the field. If you work around autism, you know autism in all shapes and sizes. He could have autism in a milder form…he has the perfectionism that goes along with those who are high functioning on the spectrum. He may have wild mood swings and behaviors that are not shown on camera. April is autism awareness month. Instead of criticizing, lets educate ourselves before we judge.

  38. Jadesmom says:

    It is so inspirational that A person with autism has went this far on Idol.He is so good and has such a neat personality in that he always seems so appreciative of both musical praise and criticism. I so want him to win.I am a huge James fan.Go James’!!!!!!!!!!

  39. misty says:

    I feel people should not say anything about James unless they have known him his whole life.Just let him do what he does best sing.I live in a small town and I have a 32 month old son with pdd may be changed to high functioning aspergers when he is older.I deal with people all the time saying he is not autistic well unless you have a degree then people should not say a word.It get’s under my skin so bad.So many people have no idea what they are talking about.I tip my hat to James.Rock on!!!!

  40. Pablo Castillo says:

    Just can say, that last performance was spectacular… don’t make difference if is or not autism…

    Is a perfect singer… God Bless you.

  41. shblady says:

    Autism Awareness Month is an appropriate time to remind you to use “person first” language, as in a “person with autism,” not “autistic person.”
    That being said, am I the only one who wonders if Jacob Lusk is a person with autism?

  42. Idol Fan says:

    It’s spelled Asperger’s and it’s on the autism spectrum. Yes, high functioning. He’s AWESOME!

  43. solialba says:

    Too Much Ignorance.
    One day I met a psychologist who told me that Luis did not have autism, who had epilepsy = O!!, just because he no longer looked very autistic and recommended that the work would be perfect for him will be accommodating articles in a grocery store =/ !!
    The effort that my son has done to get out the most possible spectrum does not mean that he es not autistic.
    If he does not look too autistic is because he knows about his condition, and he control himself, is not that more merit??
    I am so happy for this guy. He is realizing his dream. That is inspiring not just for our kids, also for us The Parents. Good for this Guy and keep going , never leave your dreams =).

  44. Peggy says:

    I can see signs of the Tourettes on stage. After his performance you will see the motor ticks. People with tourettes are able to function and suppress the ticks for quite a while when they need to, but it builds up and they have a time of “letting out”. He probably goes back after the the show and let’s it all out then. I think he is doing a wonderful job and wish him luck.

  45. Dave says:

    As a father of a child with autism I am very encouraged and proud to see people with autism come out and show their talents. James is an incredible performer and it comes so naturally to him. I love his voice and it is great to have the music I enjoy (heavy metal) represented on Idol.

    Best of luck, James!

  46. Liz Suffern says:

    My Daughter who is now 18 years old was diagnosed with Autism when she was four. It is something she would rather not talk about nor accept because she feels embarrassed and does not want to stand out as different. When James spoke out openly, she began to ask about her challenge. She has great creative ability, good language, emotions and sensitivity. She wants to be accepted yet in the workplace she doesn’t fully understand social cues and as a result gets teased, mimicked and often comes home in tears. She doesn’t want any one to know her challenge yet I think it will help others accept her. She is a beautiful young girl and seeing James abilities and creativity helps her realize its okay to be different. It is just a beginning. There are so many misconceptions about Autism and Aspergers. Just like these wonderful people have to learn to live in our world, we should take the time to learn theirs. Congratulations James. Keep the creativily alive and inspire us all.

  47. Aimzee says:

    I have read all the comments here and see that there were doubters as to James Durbin’s diagnosis of Asperger’s. Many are from early March. After seeing James’ reaction to Hulk Hogan, and his emotional response to Stefano Langone leaving, doubters are more likely to believe. It is sad that there have been doubters.

    James has been an inspiration to all having this medical condition and Tourettes Syndrome. He is a talented young man and even if he doesn’t win Idol, he is a winner! Wishing him the very best in the coming weeks.

  48. Dea says:

    Yes, James IS a winner. Few people know how hard it is to do what he does with all the noise and distractions. He may not win Idol but to me and to many, MANY others he is already a winner! What an amazing young man, and what an awesome talent! He will go far, and I am awaiting his first CD. I will be on the list to buy!

  49. kira says:

    go JAMES, hope you win the whole thing, although you are a winner already!! You give all the people with Aspergers hope!

  50. Stephanie says:

    I’m usually not even a fan of Idol — but I’m hoping James does well.

    I have a 5 year old with high functioning autism — and many people REFUSE to believe he has it! (he’s talkative & friendly so “he couldn’t possibly have autism, right?”) It’s a hard road no matter what end of the spectrum your son or daughter lands on. I’m glad awareness is increasing :)

  51. MomOfAspie says:

    As a parent of a son with the same diagnosis as James – Asperger’s and Tourette’s, I know first hand the obstacles and challenges being born with an atypical neurology can have. My son is now 18 and having lived this for the past 18 years I can tell you that it is difficult and can be exhausting for those with compromised neurology to navigate life every day. People with these diagnoses have to learn what is socially acceptable and it’s very difficult for them, because it is not something that is innate to them. The way they perceive things is very different as well and they are super sensitive. So indeed James has overcome many obstacles and challenges that those with a typical neurology cannot relate to. I think he is a super talent and I have a soft spot in my heart for him because I understand what he has gone through to get where he is. My vote is for James, and I cannot wait to buy his albums – he is an incredible talent and I know he will go far!

  52. My sister taught James Durbin at the alternative high school in Santa Cruz. I was just talking to her about him last night, and yes, he definitely has autism. She said that he spent most of every class rolling around on the floor, and never paid attention to anything at all. It is truly a miracle that he has managed to pull himself up by his own musical bootstraps!

  53. Cameron's Proud Mom says:

    As a parent of a teenager with Asperger’s syndrome, I find James Durbin to be an inspiration. My son, after many years of early intervention, may appear to the outsider and neighbor as “normal”. Yet in the comfort of our home and around people who support him, still jumps up and down, has facial grimacing, and obsessive interests… just wish one of those interests could have been music ! As the blogger said above, AI is pre-taped and they probably pick and chose what is shown. I am thrilled to see that James has such talent and it gives me such HOPE to know that he found a compassionate woman to love him and make his journey easier :)

  54. saundra magerowski says:

    My 24-year-old son is on social security. Why? Because he has high-functioning autism spectrum disorder and didnt qualify for help in school. He qualifies now, and is trying to become a responsible, productive citizen. I hired tutors, and saw doctors, etc, but in the end it wasn’t enough. Teachers thought he was lazy when he couldn’t pass tests even though he studied for hours. I hope things change, or we as a society are in big trouble. With more and more people being diagnosed with these types of disabilities and less and less support, who will pay for this in the future – we all will.

  55. ER says:

    James commented during an interview that he was diagnosed with Tourettes. That is not the same as Aspergers (autisim). The eye movements that you see are the result of Tourettes. Some people diagnosed with Tourettes do really weird things like cursing.

  56. Karen Williams says:

    I am a big fan of James and was sorry to see him be voted off. As a parent with twins with Autism, the thing that bothers me a bit about this doubting of his diagnosis is what it represents. People who don’t understand Autism or haven’t had personal experiences with it may see James and think, “Gee, what’s so challenging about his Autism? He seems just fine. I couldn’t do what he’s doing and I don’t have Autism.”

    As a parent who has dealt with the kind of challenges my sons’ have had for the past 18 years, it appears to minimize their disability. These people are people that will vote for laws and legislature to support people that can’t live independently. People with Autism often will need financial support. When voters’ picture of “Autism” is who James is, they may question the need for support of people with Autism.

    I have worked with many children with Autism and raised my sons with it, so I completely understand the kind of support they will need in their future. I am not doubting the diagnosis, but just want to look at another side of what James is putting out there. When my sons’ were diagnosed, my picture of Autism was “Rain Man”. It’s what was out there at the time. I’m just suggesting how distorted these public views can be.

    I truly support James for everything he has done, and nothing what I say here minimizes what he has accomplished. Go James! I love your voice and the fact that you didn’t let your disability control your life. You really show that you have focused on what you could do and not what you couldn’t because of your challenges. I also cheer your family and friends that I know helped you get there too!

  57. Edy Clark says:

    I worked with autistic adults for four years, the range of abilities and limitations vary. Who would know my grandson would be diagnosed with autism five years ago. I have seen the challenges that people afflicted with autism encounter some such as my grandson are severely affected. No matter as any disability in any form there should be assistance and education available. It is a natural born right in this country. Unfortunately.there are many who are not educated including proffessionals teaching our children. I can only hope the trend changes and more therapies are made available to all.

  58. Lizabeth says:

    I have to share my story. Maybe others will find it similar to what they went through. My son was diagnosed with ODD, Conduct Disorder, never behaved in class, ALWAYS had to be in control and was put in Special Ed classes for emotionally disturbed children.We did individual therapy, family therapy, one therapist told us to give him everything he wanted, that he needed love, one therapist told us he needed a good spanking. But he never got less than 100 on a test and he was brilliant. He was thrown out of kindergarten because he would not follow rules. He had minor things happen (shoplifting), hanging with bad kids, and we made him accountable. He got a full scholarship to college and made the deans list all the time. At age 20 he told us he wanted to go to Game design school in Arizona, we checked it out, it was a good school. He flew out at age 20, got a roomate, got everything ready, came home for Thanksgiving and Christmas and left home for good in 2002. Haven’t seen him since. He started gambling and it was all downhill after that. Threatening suicide just to get his way. Travelled from city to city always calling 911 and threatening suicide and bring brought to a psych ward, being given pills, then being discharged. To say this has destroyed us is putting it mildly. When he was 22 or so one psychiatrist said “I know exactly what’s wrong with you, you have Aspergers”. Never heard of that at that time. Since that time, he has been put on SSI, he has been given an apartment, a tv, a dvd player, he plays Second Life and WOW non stop, NEVER HAD A JOB in his life, and this is ASPERGERS??? Don’t think so. Initially he was diagnosed with Narcissism which I truly believe is what he has. He has no consideration for us, for what he has done. Last month he calls us from his apartment saying he is going to commit suicide because he hates where he lives. We called the police and of course they went to his apartment and found him just fine, but took him in anyway. Took him 3 weeks of suicide threats but HE GOT ANOTHER APARTMENT. I repeat. This is Aspergers. We no longer are in contact because I can’t take it anymore. I wish all you parents out there well, but I’m done. This has almost destroyed his father and me.

  59. Asemp says:

    @Lizabeth – it does very much sound like Asperger’s to me.

    I know the suicide threats can be hurtful, but I suspect, like most with Asperger’s, he finds life and existence in a world with other people difficult to deal with. He probably is genuinely considering suicide, but is yet to reach the conclusion that the pain of suicide outweighs the pain of continuing existence. The threats are his way of dealing with, an impossible to deal with world. He is hoping you can do something to help, and probably feels the only way to get such help is to threaten suicide. I suspect he does not realise the pain the threats cause to you, and you have not effectively communicated this pain and upset to him. (Those points may seem contradictory, but are not necessarily). I believe the statistics show people with Asperger’s are more likely to commit suicide, and more prone to clinical depression.

    Most people with Asperger’s find getting a job difficult/impossible due to the difficulties with social interaction in interviews. I have the same problem, I am 30 and have never had a job despite continuously trying. It’s hard not to feel downhearted and prone to giving up when you go to an interview and know the likely outcome, which you have no control over due to being born differently to other people. I feel somewhat suicidal because of that, but I’m would never say so in an attempt to get a job – because I know it wouldn’t help. You seem to be trying to suggest his lack of a job is due to laziness, but I strongly suspect it is not.

    One thing people with Asperger’s continually face is social ostracism. To experience that from your parents must be particularly soul destroying. I can understand why you have taken the action you have, but think getting in touch would be a good idea for all involved – before you hear he actually *has* committed suicide. You need to learn to deal with his unique behaviour, and not get so upset and concerned by it. Try to communicate more effectively with him. When something he does upsets you, tell him in clear and certain terms this is the case – people with Asperger’s have difficulty understanding other types of responses. When he threatens to commit suicide, maybe be constructive and try to offer thoughts on ways to deal with the difficulties he is experiencing – the fact you have not been able to do this before suggests to me you appreciate the circumstances he finds himself in are difficult to deal with.

  60. Lizabeth says:

    Hi. thank you for your thoughtful reply to my posting.

    You said:”When he threatens to commit suicide, maybe be constructive and try to offer thoughts on ways to deal with the difficulties he is experiencing – the fact you have not been able to do this before suggests to me you appreciate the circumstances he finds himself in are difficult to deal with.”

    We have been doing this for almost 9 years. The first few times he told us he would kill himself and we were up all night trying to get SOMEONE to go to his apartment (he lives 3000 miles away), well, no one would talk to me because he was over 18 and, as one suicide hotline person put it, YOU MIGHT BE A HIT WOMAN. A hit woman??? Really?? Only the fact that I started to cry, then I got some supervisor on the phone and she told me “All I can say is “he’s safe”.

    That experience was the first of COUNTLESS threats. He took 27 buses in 27 cities, getting off each one and calling 911 and having a crisis team meet him in whatever city he happened to land in. They would pick him up, bring him to a crisis center and feed him and give him a roof over his head for the night, (sometimes 2 weeks). He would also go to psych wards and declare he was suicidal (3 hots and a cot this is called). I was contacted by over 35 social workers in every city he arrived in and it got so bad I decided to type up his background and fax it to them. That saved me a lot of heartache. I was always available to every social worker, every case manager. And this was BEFORE the first diagnosis which was Narcissistic Personality Disorder. I would try and explain what he was doing to us. I never yelled, I never threatened, I simply would say “come home, you can stay here, find a job, we’ll help you”. I once asked him “why did you move so far away?” His reply: “Would you have let me stay at home, do nothing, not work, and you’d take care of me?” I replied “what the hell kind of parent does that?” He said “Now you know why I left”

    He discovered gambling at age 22. It never stopped. He once told me “Mom, they’ll walk over your dead body, but cry suicide and by law, they have to pick you up, take care of you, feed you and give you a place to sleep”

    I checked and they told me ‘yeah, he knows his rights and he knows the system” This sounds like Aspergers to you?? Not to me. I think the first diagnosis of Narcissistic Personality Disorder fits him to a TEE.

    He was once being discharged from yet another 5 day stay in a psych ward and they discharged him with some pills. He walked over to the head nurse and said “call me a cab” because they ALWAYS gave him a bus voucher (that’s how he could travel, with all FREE bus vouchers).

    The nurse looked at him and said “I am not your servant I don’t call cabs”.

    He looked at her, opened his palm, and said “if you don’t call me a cab, I’ll swallow these pills in front of you”. SHE CALLED HIM A CAB.

    Another time, he landed in San Francisco but in that city, the cops pick you up and handcuff you and take you to the ER. he said to me “I never knew that would happen but once they knew I wouldn’t hurt myself, they took off the cuffs” He was told to sit down and wait his turn.

    He didn’t want to wait, he walked up to the front desk and demanded a bed for the night (Imagine a crowded ER and he does this!!) The nurse said “you have to wait your turn, go and sit down”.

    He walked over to a garbage can, kicked it across the room and announced “Did I get your attention yet?”


    Another time, he was in a Board and Care facility and he was on line to eat, cafeteria style. He did not like what they served and he wanted to eat what the staff was eating in the back room. When they told him “no you have to eat what everybody else is eating”, he held up the line. He would not let anyone go ahead of him. Of course the police were called, they took him to a crisis center, where, you guessed it THEY GAVE HIM A BURGER, FRIES AND A SODA, and they let him call me and he smugly said “I did it again, I got what I wanted”.

    There is much more, all manipulation, all controlling behavior. About 5 years ago he announced he was going to be in Vegas to gamble. My husband flew down to meet up with him to try and talk him about of gambling.

    My husband watched him as he interacted with the women in the room (he was socializing). After he lost all his money, my husband took him to the bus so he could take the bus back to where he lived. My husband watched as he engaged in conversation with a woman on line with him.

    Still sound like Aspergers to you??

    And you mentioned going on interviews and feeling depressed because you know you might not get the job.

    My son has NEVER GONE ON AN INTERVIEW IN HIS LIFE. He finally told me once “All I need is to go on SSI and I’ll be taken care of for life”.

    Still sound like Aspergers to you? Or do you think he might have Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

    He finally landed in an apartment complex that was filled with people with mental illnesses, drug addicts, etc. and at first he drove them crazy because he didn’t like his neighbors so they moved him. He bets the rent, he loses the rent, he has had loan sharks after him. They have even called m house looking for him. That was YEARS ago. He bet the rent again last month. He did not like where he was living. He said “no one considers my feelings”.

    That’s when he again called me up and said “I wrote a suicide note” I said “you did what???” (To me this is all learned behavior, he knows what to do and say to get what he wants to get).

    He called me, I called the police, they picked him up, found the note, brought him to a mental hospital (where I hoped they would keep him). He was released two days later and phoned me and said “I’m home”. I said “how can you be home, you threatened to kill yourself?” He said: “Oh I know how to do it, all I have to do is promise not to harm myself and they have to release me”. He was right. I phoned his case manager.

    They had still not moved him. So he did it again. He called me saying “I mailed you a suicide note”. I said “and you know what I’ll do with it right?” he said “yeah, you are going to call the police, but don’t bother, I just called them and they will be here soon.

    One might think THAT WOULD HAVE HIM PUT AWAY. Oh no, I called his case manager, she told me to mail her the suicide note once I received it, so when I got it I faxed it to her”. She got it and thanked me and assured me that THIS TIME, THEY WOULD PROBABLY PUT HIM AWAY or do something drastic because of all the suicide threats.

    Know what? THEY MOVED HIM. He emails me and says “Guess what, I’m living at a new place and this guy is nice and I’m going to design a website for his room and board” I wished him luck and hung up. I was so destroyed by all this and my poor husband, don’t ask what this did to him.

    Think it’s over after all this? Don’t count on it.

    I get a phone call a few days later and he say: “I’m back at the hospital, I threatened to kill myself” I said “What happened to the apartment?” he said “oh, that’s fine, the guy is nice, it’s not about the apartment, I just am depressed”.

    Sounds like this 30 year old has learned how to get attention, how to demand it and has an ego the size of Texas.

    I was done after that. I wrote him an email very politely (not threatening, not mad) but from the heart.

    I expressed my feelings that after all these years and after all his manipulations, badgering people, getting his way with threats of suicide, (and believe me we’ve talked about his gambling addiction and addiction to video gaming and Second Life). He once told me “I don’t believe in GA, you have to make amends and I’m not the type of person who makes amends”.

    And during this most recent suicide banter back and forth, I wrote to him saying “You are seriously affecting our health, please do not continue to do this”. He wrote back to me “I wish you would understand that I’m mentally ill and not blame me for your health issues”

    I then called his case manager (because we had been communicating and she assured me she would get him in therapy in some kind of Cognitive behavior program for people with Borderline Personality and she thought it was perfect for him).

    Well I called her to tell her about the latest dialogue I had with him, and guess what she said to me:? “I am not allowed to talk to you, his case has been bumped up to my supervisor and you know about the confidentiality, etc. etc. blah blah”.

    I just stared at the phone.

    And I’m not even going to mention what he emailed me last year (a link to a sexually explicit youtube video that I couldn’t even watch) and when I tried to tell him how inappropriate it was to send me this, he said “I thought we were both grown-ups”. I said “Oh Really”.

    No, I’m done. Thankfully I have had the support and guidance of a friend of mine who is a psychologist and who has been in on the dialogue. I told her EVERY conversation and his dialogue and she said “Doesn’t sound like Aspergers, he has a personality disorder and he’ll suck you dry with all his manipualtions. “You have to do what is in your best interest”.

    My son is an emotional vampire and I’m done.

    Sorry to be all winded but let me tell you, his behavior has done me in. I have to care for a sick husband and the stress of what our son has put us through (after going to college, making the deans list, telling us he is going to game design school, then NOT going to game design school, becoming a gambler, losing all the rent money, demanding to be taken care of, and NEVER WORKING ONE DAY IN HIS LIFE, well at age 30, he is old enough to take responsiblity for his own actions. He has always been in control of his SSI money, except for when he bets the rent, then they give him a payee, then he proves to them he can be responsible and then IT ALL HAPPENS AGAIN.

    I’m exhausted even thinking about all this.

    I need peace in my life. I watch all my friends with their children and their grandchildren and I’m amazed that they have joy in their lives.

    I am intent on finding joy in my life.

    Even late in life, I’m entitled to be happy.

    thanks for listening.

  61. Nolagurl says:

    It makes me crazy to read what people write sometime. First of all, shame on anyone. Asperger is real and it is a spectrum disorder. James says he participated in theatre as a child and that probably helped him a lot. I know because my son used to be moderate but we got involved in theatre and now he looks normal to others but his closest friends and his family know that it’s the little things that stand out. Just because your child or sister can’t read traffic lights doesn’t mean James doesn’t have Asperger. It just means your sister has bigger hurdles to jump and she may not ever be able to jump them. That doesn’t diminish his struggles. It also shows your ignorance about spectrum disorders and how they work. They involve more than one gene and the more genes that are affected the worse case you have. So the next time you go to judge or open your mouth in an attempt to diagnose someone remember your not a trained professional.

  62. Haley says:

    I was so happy to find this article….James was really entertaining when he was on Idol.

    I can relate…I was a singer for many years…and I have Asperger’s. Acting and singing was a great outlet for me, I became another person when I was on a stage. There was a feeling of FREEDOM for me when I performed, like I was an Earthling and all those people listening to me didn’t realize I was from Mars! It was like my “little secret”…and I loved it. Call it my lifelong obsession if you will, but it gave me something I needed because I felt accepted when I sang…not judged for being strange or different, but ACCEPTED because I could sing, and people liked it.

    And at times, I would become VERY emotional about that feeling of being accepted by a sea of Earthlings. I would cry, I would break down. On any given day, I am pretty flat emotionally, but put me on a stage and give me THAT FEELING and here comes mega emotion. And it always felt great to FEEL.

    I am retired from singing now, but I can still conjur that feeling of acceptance. Singing taught me that and what an enormous lesson it was. I am so very grateful that I was able to do what I did, and I am so very proud of James Durbin for doing what he does. I hope he FEELS ever single second of his newly launched career.

  63. Haley says:

    Lisabeth, your son does not sound like he has Asperger’s to me…people with Asperger’s CAN be very manipulative at times, but I’ve never heard of one who used manipulation to torture people. And you are being tortured by your son. If he will not get the help he obviously needs, you need to let him go…a horrific thought, but every time you call the police you are enabling him to keep doing what he does. A lot of people are enabling him. Unless you can have him declared incompetent and forcibly committed, you should cease all communications with him. Change your phone numbers, email addresses, etc. Do what you have to do to protect yourself from him too…he is mentally ill and while he doesn’t seem to actually be a danger to himself, he could be a danger to you and your husband.

  64. Lizabeth says:

    Haley: I completely agree with you. When I spoke to the police on the phone they told me it’s the right thing to do if he ever emails me or phones me and threatens suicide, that I have to phone them. They said “you have to do this” I just hope I never hear from him. I was thinking about it today. When he would call he would talk about suicide like he was talking about going to the store. No depressed voice, no “I can’t stand life anymore, I’m going to do it”. Just a matter of fact statement. Nine year of this is enough. He knows not to phone me anymore nor communicate with me. He did email me last week asking what meds his father is allergic to. I just named he meds and that was it. I’ve had it. Thanks for letting me vent.

  65. kayla says:

    Come one guys even if it is high functioning he still has it. u can kinda tell i have an autistic brother and thats not something u can fake. and he does have tourrettes he has a facial tick. and he wasnt trying to get pity votes or he wouldve been mentioning it and hinting at it a bunch. get a grip

  66. kayla says:

    And u know what there is no “real, classic” autistic so u can shut ur mouth. my brother has high functioning autisim but it holds him back everyday. Don’t belittle peoples hardships.

  67. Lizabeth says:

    Hi this is for Haley:

    Haley, my son’s case manager phone me last week. I asked her right out “do you think he has Aspergers?” She said “No, he has Borderline Personality Disorder” I said “I figured”. I knew his behavior was not indicative of Aspergers. Now I have no idea if James has Aspergers or not. It’s not my place to say he has it or doesn’t have it.

    My son called again and told me he put a plastic bag over his head but that he couldn’t go through with it. I said “why did you do this?” He said “Well, if they don’t find me a good place to live, I’ll keep doing it”.

    I have to live like this? for the rest of my life?

    I don’t think so.

    I’m done.

    He sounds exactly like many Borderlines that I have read about.

    And the fact that his case manager thinks this, and wants him in DBT, well, that’s good enough for me.

    I just might have to change my phone number and email address.

    I have lost friends and family members over his bizarre behavior and his gambling.

    Last week he said he went to the casino and lost $600 and that’s when he put the bag over his head.

    I tell him “Please go to Gamblers Anonymous, you have a disease”

    He is having none of that.

    He’s a 30 year old man with Borderline Personality Disorder and he’s a gambler with absolutely no ties to any family members or friends.

    Nothing I can do. I’ve been trying for 30 years.

    I wish all of you well, but I’m done.

  68. carla says:

    For Elizabeth and anyone else
    First of all, never, ever, rely solely on the opinion of a case manager. They never get enough education on autism no matter what they say. They shouldn’t even be telling you such a thing.

    You need to see a psychiatrist or sometimes a neurologist. I’ve done both. Nobody in my area could give him a diagnosis. Finally I went to the last psychiatrist and didn’t get an answer, as usual. I had her write down that she did know what it was. That’s only way insurance would pay for taking him to a teaching hospital in a large city that was doing research on autism as well as treatment and testing. The doctor in charge of the clinic happened to be a leading expert in autism, known internationally.
    After all kinds of testing, speech, IQ, behavior, coordination, sensory, etc …my son finally had a diagnosis that fit him. It was high functioning autism (not aspergers) and ADHD. Most of his special ed teachers were surprised to hear this. He talked and looked like any other kid, but he was very stubborn, impulsive and disruptive so he spent a lot of his time in the “naughty chair”. This was 15 years ago. He still struggles and will always struggle but he’s a great kid who has a part-time job and taken some college classes and will be able to support himself some day. There is still a lot to teach him.
    So please don’t rely on anybody that isn’t a specialist in the field.

    Oh, for anyone that questions James autism, I’d like to know where you got your MD and training in Psychiatry. If it’s nowhere, then shut up!

  69. Lizabeth says:

    Unfortunately, that’s out of the question. My son lives 3000 miles away and I have no legal right to speak to anyone on his behalf. I have been told his over and over again It’s the HIPPA laws. Maybe it’s different where you live but that’s the fact in my case. I can’t do this anymore. My son is 30 and has practically destroyed our lives and our health. I can’t take any more calls about suicide and what he might do or will do. As a matter of fact, he phoned last night just to say “Guess what, I’m feeling a bit better”. “I think it’s the meds”. All I could say was “Oh, that’s nice, I wish you well” because that’s all I can say. He is still in a mental hospital and as soon as he is stable they will release him to yet another apartment. They do not think he has aspergers. And honestly, neither do I. The borderline diagnosis fits. He is a compulsive gambler and gamer and once he gets his computer back and he gets out, he’ll go right back to gambling. And when that happens, and he loses at the casino, he again will phone me and say “Oh I’m thinking of suicide, so I’m in the psych ward again” And if you think I’m going to keep putting myself through all this again, well…. believe me that’s not going to happen. He makes bad choices and all the therapy and all the Cognitive behavioral therapy in the world isn’t going to do him a bit of good. I’ve been down this road for 9 years.

    It has almost destroyed us. I cannot do this anymore. If he will able to get an apartment, handle his own money and get himself to a casino where he bets the rent, well he needs to be in a gambling rehab program and not calling me up every 5 minutes saying “I’m going to commit suicide”

    And believe me, no one can guilt me into being a BETTER mother. I was the best mother anyone could have been.

    He simply got on a plane 9 years ago and destroyed his life with gaming, online gambling and going to casinos.

    Just my honest opinion


  70. Peter Glass says:

    I am 17 and a half, have high-functioning autism and ADHD. My oldest cousin, Callum is now 20. He has autism and cerebal palsy.

  71. Peter Glass says:

    Apart from the fact that I have both high-functioning autism and ADHD. I’m a very able and talkative young man so sometimes people say to me that I have a case of verbal diahorrea which means I can be extremely chatty.

  72. sarah says:

    I was inspired by James,my only child was diagnosed with autism when she was 2 1/2 years old,she cant say a word,cant even say yes or no,i even thought she was deaf because she ignores anyone talking to her but she is not,she enjoys playing alone,she was 4 years old when she first called me mom, she never hug me or kiss me whenever she sees me as if I’m not existing,can’t show affection,she has poor eye contact,clumsy,has short attention span, she can’t jump from 1 step of stairs without assistance til age 7.But as soon as her doctor told me her condition,I accepted that I have a special child who have special needs,I attended to her needs. I brought her to a speech therapist,occupational therapist and SPED, I did everything to make her life better. I patiently teach her everyday,I kept journals of what she’s not capable to do,what improved and what needed to be improved.She indeed improved…a lot.Her improvement is also because of the support and concern of people around her,our family,friends,church mates.I always bring her where children’s are.Now she’s 9,she has great interest in drawing and animation ,very good in computer and got first class honor distinction (98-100%) in an international school.This time I thought maybe the doctor made a wrong diagnosis… but no,she still have the behaviors of a child with autism- the problem with eye contact and focus as if really not listening but she’s listening,prefers to be alone doing her favorite stuff or obsessive interest,difficulty in social interactions..she became very emotional.But for me she is a special gift from God waiting to be open
    ed at the right time.. just like James’s mom, she waited for that time, the revelation of that gift and that is what James Durbin now…just like other famous people with Asperger or high functioning autism..Newton,Darwin, Beethoven…they are gifts themselves not only to their family but to the world.James is what he is now because of the help,love and support he received from the people around him and the acceptance factor.. these things improved him. Things may change..even for worse or better..depending on the people around individuals like James.For those people suspecting that your child has it at an early age …consult a developmental pediatrician..For “others”- try to search that you may understand.People may represent for the society she/he belongs…James did and inspired us and made me more hopeful for my child.

  73. Melody says:

    Hey, you never know. Look at Temple Grandin. She was born autistic, they thought she had high functioning. Now they say she has aspergers and she has literally re-invented the way animals are treated in a slaughterhouse. She’s a professor and she is independent. Try and watch the HBO movie Temple Grandin (that is if you have not done so already).

    You will be amazed and you will further have great hopes for your daughter.

    Wishing you the best.

  74. sarah says:

    to melody: thanks,I watched the movie yesterday, it’s inspiring.

  75. carol owens says:

    Funny that I am just reading this now that the tour is half way through. By all accounts James is having a lot of difficulty with the social part of the tour. People who criticize him on his comments don’t realize his limitations and think he is arrogant and creating social suicide with his comments. I am not sure he will make it in this business, with everybody ready to pounce on every mistake. I think James needs a censor for his comments and it will be good when he gets back home to his Heidi.

  76. Dear Lizabeth,

    My heart went out to you when I read what you’ve been thru all these years. I love someone with a really narcissistic personality, who manipulates others around and seems to care for no one but himself, and it hurts. You do have a right to find joy, to live life, and to heal. I don’t presume to know what you need, but I know that having Jesus in my heart, in my life, has healed me and enabled me to forgive and still love this person in my life without destroying myself. But God took care of my needs first, I came first. I hope that you may find your rest, healing and joy in Him.

    God bless.


  77. Wendy says:

    My son has high functioning autism and he cries very easily. He can be very strong at times. he doesn’t understand social situations very well, but he can do what needs to be done at times or with training. He would NEVER get along with a bunch of guys hitting each other for fun the way guys do sometimes. He does have issues looking in peoples’ eyes, but he can do it with concentration and effort and if you tell him to do it. It is totally unnatural for him and not his first response. Every person with Aspberger’s is different. He is brilliant at math and science.

  78. Megan says:

    Hi, My 4 year old has high functioning autism. You would never know (and most people don’t realize it) besides the fact that he has a speech delay and flaps his hands alot. He makes perfect eyecontact, facial expressions and has emotional relationships. He cries…. He could have aspergers and cry. Crying is not what puts you on the spectrum. One thing that people should realize it that you can split hairs, but Autism, PDD and aspergers is ALL autism and on the spectrum. No 2 cases are the same of any of them. James could be very well have aspergers…. Its not if he looks like your own child or neighbors that has autism. Its that he has enough traits, whatever they are, that puts HIM on the spectrum. Please leave the diagnosis to the professionals. Its hard enough to diagnose because no two cases are alike. If he has been diagnosed then that his business not yours to make the diagnosis for him just because to you he is not “A Typical” autistic. In reality there really is no A Typical Autism.

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Did You Know?

  • * In 1970, Autism affected 1 out of 10,000 children
  • * Autism now affects 1 out of 88 children
  • * Autism affects 1 in 54 boys
  • * 1.7 million Americans have some form of autism
  • * 4 out of 5 autistic children are boys

RSS Latest Article Entries

  • Pioneers of Change: How Two Mothers are Making a Difference August 16, 2014
    Out of the enormous tragedy that is Sandy Hook, rays of light are shining forth. Scarlett Lewis is the mother of Jesse Lewis, a six year old victim of the massacre. Moved by the words “Nurturing, Healing, Love” that her son wrote on a blackboard days before his death, she has created the the Jesse […]

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