James Durbin Cruises to the Top 24 on American Idol

On Thursday evening, American Idol viewers watched as judges Randy Jackson, Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler eliminated and advanced contestants, ultimately comprising the show’s coveted "top 24" spots. Included in that group was James Durbin, who along with his fellow contestants, will now be performing on live television beginning next week.

In his final solo performance before moving on, Durbin performed a rendition of  “A Change Is Gonna Come” by Sam Cooke, clearly impressing the judges with a wide range of vocals.

Durbin, who has been diagnosed with both Tourette’s and Asperger’s Syndrome, was visibly nervous prior to learning his fate, with his grimacing and wincing tics clearly noticeable to viewers.

As Durbin celebrated the news of his advancement, Steven Tyler quipped, "Take that sh** Tourrette’s!" and noted that he was "a lightning bolt." All three judges seemed pleased to see him advance and in an indication that Durbin is one of the frontrunners this season, Ryan Seacrest said to viewers, “We now turn James over to you."

James Durbin has been impressive since the audition rounds began but based on some comments on Twitter and elsewhere, it appears he has a few haters as well. Earlier this week, even TMZ tried running a "gotcha" piece on Durbin that involved some unflattering comments he made last year, all while insensitively referring to him as the "Tourrette’s Guy." Clearly, TMZ isn’t well educated on Aspies and their lack of "filters."

As Durbin advances, it’s likely that the insensitivity and cruelness of others will continue to emerge, as is usually the case when someone is different. However, James now has the opportunity to silence his critics and show the world that individuals with autism and other special needs are capable of achieving extraordinary things in their lives, regardless of circumstances.

10 Responses to James Durbin Cruises to the Top 24 on American Idol

  1. Lisa Kawachino says:

    I’m not even a fan of American Idol…but this guy…he touched my heart in every way possible. He’s such an admirable person! I love him & will be cheering him on the whole way through! He proves ANYONE in this world is capable of doing what they love. James, you’re the man <3

  2. Bruce Mancil says:

    I have become a huge fan Of James Durbin in the last few days. I hope that he can keep his head up and show the world what he is made of. There will be sticks and stones, but James has what it takes to let them bounce off him. God Speed, young man.

  3. Joye Coker says:

    James Durbin has already overcome so much in his life- Tourrett’s and Autism is being mocked by cruel people-As he has said,he was made fun of while growing up-This disorder isn’t something chosen any more than a person in a wheelchair.It is clear he has had a lot of love and support from his family-I have a family member with Tics and that person is very intelligent and gifted just as James is-hopefully ,James will the next AMERICAN IDOL!-Then his hecklers will hopefully be silent-If James were gay and something derogatory was said about him,It would be all over the news -So where is the outcry over his disorder being used as a joke?

  4. starsky299 says:

    He will get pity votes for his Tourrett’s, 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. People say, OMG, it’s amazing he can even sing with that autism. No it’s not. Actually the autism isn’t really much of a factor. Also his Tourettes isn’t either. Why? Because the symptoms come about when the muscles are dormant. When he sings, and is active it’s not a problem.

    So I hope people vote on his singing, and not vote for him because they think he’s autistic. 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. Ask him how old he is, and he will probably tell you the wrong number. He can’t interact in a social situation correctly. He would come into a room full of people, and if he thought it was time for bed, turn out all the lights and leave everyone in the dark. He runs around flapping his hands. THAT is autism. What James Durbin has is NOT the same thing. In the past, Durbin wouldn’t have even classified as autistic. But perhaps they’ve broadened the definition to include symptoms of mild Aspergers which have practically none of the same symptoms. The symptoms James Durbin will have will mostly be facial twitches. Not that same thing as classical autism. Yet people are likely going to pity vote for him because they think an autistic person is singing. And by the way. It’s a singing contest anyway. Should we really pity vote for people to win? I don’t think so. That said, he has a very good voice and if I vote for him, it will be due to voice only. I just wrote this because it bugs me that so many people don’t understand these things.

  5. starsky299 says:

    He talks perfectly normal. The sad thing is people will judge him on his facial twitches and think he’s stupid or retarded. Other symptoms could be grunting, clearing his throat, but he doesn’t do that. And he doesn’t seem to be afflicted by the more severe problems which are more rare like swear words. He will likely sing just fine and then walk off stage where the judges will critique him. And it’s here that his face will likely twitch etc. But again, he will not exhibit the symptoms of autism, such as being out of touch with reality, treating people as objects (like a chair or ball). He also won’t have language difficulty, or problems communicating as this clip shows. Eye contact problems, resists cuddling, hugging, prefers being alone, trouble using words correctly, speaking with abnormal tone or rhythm. James has none of these problems. Again, he should not be referred to as autistic. And if he has 1% autism, then he still shouldn’t be labeled as such. Tourettes yes however.

  6. Franco says:

    starksy, do you know James personally? If not, I’m impressed you can make such sweeping conclusions about his conditions based on a few minutes of telvision! trying to diagnose the severity of someone’s condition based on what you see on tv is not the best way to do things. in fact, James has shown some characteristcs of autism such as crying a lot (overly-emotional). i’m sorry about you brother but just because James is not “as bad” as he is doesn’t lessen what he has or make his autism spectrum disorder any less important.

  7. IdolGirl11 says:

    starsky299, you should be more careful of what you say about people that you do not personally know. Just because you know one person who is autistic doesn’t mean that everyone else with autism is like that. Like franco said, it is a spectrum disorder. Just think about that before you voice opinions so strongly.

  8. autisticsRgreat says:

    People who suffer from autism deal with a lot emotionally, which an onlooker, like starsky299, may not be able to comprehend. What the media has not mentioned is the autism is what makes James Durbin G-R-E-A-T, not just good, in his craft. These special people have the innate ability to highly focus on the small details in order to attain a level of perfection that the average person would struggle to achieve. However, it all comes at a cost for them emotionally and the way they are perceived.

    James wears his heart on his sleeve, and holds nothing back, which is one of the classic symptoms. For those of us with personal experience in interacting with autistic children, there is no doubt he struggles with this disorder (Asperger’s, a milder form of autism) in addition to Tourette’s Syndrome. It makes me proud to see representatives like James, who can demonstrate the positive side of autism, and hold his head high to be different. He is truly lucky to have the gift of musical talent and voice to counteract the difficulties of communication presented by autism.

  9. Karen says:

    James has tremendous drive and has the best recording voice of anyone on this season. He has the best stage presence among all of them too. His Aspergers (which is a form of autism) is not something that the average joe would notice outright. My daughter has Aspergers also. It is difficult to diagnose and makes the person with the illness feel the world in a different way. Their senses are completely unique and it something that is hard for anyone to comprehend. My daughter has the most amazing voice and has been singing since she was one and hasn’t stopped yet. It comforts her in a world that is filled with cruel and harsh people who do not understand what Aspergers truly is. I could type all day explaining the different way things are to someone with Aspergers. James feels his music in his veins, his heart and his soul. He isn’t looking for pity. He just wants to share his talent with the world and love his family.

  10. t says:

    starsky299, maybe you should research autism and all it’s subtypes before commenting, especially on somebody you have never met and got to know!! He is an awesome singer!!

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