James Durbin Voted into the Top 13 on American Idol

Fox / 19 Entertainment

In a tense moment Thursday evening on live television, James Durbin was placed on stage in front of millions of viewers, pitted against his Hollywood roommate, Stefano Langone, for a spot in American Idol’s "Top 13." Host Ryan Seacrest eventually delivered the news to Durbin, that he earned a position in the elite group that will move on to compete next week. 

The decision by viewers, who cast over 40 million votes, has placed Durbin in an excellent position to vie for the coveted crown to be the next American Idol. However, it was bittersweet for Durbin, who was clearly elated about his advancement, but saddened for his good friend, Stefano, who was sent back to the elimination stools. Although visibly nervous on stage, there was little doubt about Durbin’s moving on, even before his name was called.

James Durbin has become a fan favorite, particularly among those in the autism and special needs communities. At an early age, Durbin was diagnosed with a comorbid condition that includes both Tourette’s and Asperger’s Syndromes. In addition to Durbin’s challenges, he lost his father at the age of nine due to a drug overdose. He is also currently unemployed, with a young child at home and even noted that before his appearance on ‘Idol,’ it was often difficult to purchase diapers for his youngster.

By the end of the show, Durbin learned that his good friend, Stefano, earned a spot as a "wild card" contestant.

As Ryan Seacrest and the other judges noted, it was one of the most difficult nights in the history of American Idol. And indeed, there were some contestants who were sent home tonight that could have won the entire competition in previous years. Because of this fact, Durbin’s accomplishments are all-the-more-significant.

James has also become an emblem of hope for parents of children with high-functioning autism and other special needs, proving that despite physical or emotional challenges that exist in one’s life, they can be overcome.

10 Responses to James Durbin Voted into the Top 13 on American Idol

  1. oceansky99 says:

    He’s NOT autistic! He has Tourettes which causes him to have facial twitches. Yes, I know there are similarities and links etc, but if he’s autistic, then we all are. He has NONE of the symptoms of a classical autistic person which is why he can perform, interact in a complex social situation, empathize, cry at appropriate times etc. If he had a lot of symptoms of autism, he wouldn’t look anything like that, nor would he be able to function on idol. My brother has autism and if you ask him his age, he usually doesn’t even get it right. He can not cross the street. In a social situation, he forgets people are around him and turns out all the lights at bed time. I know there are all different degrees of autism, but this is ridiculous to consider him the poster boy for autistic people. The reason he’s popular around parents of usually autistic children is they misunderstand and think he has the same thing. Then they hope that their kids will do that some day. That’s nice, but it’s false information. Also he has managed to get married, have a kid, and make it on american idol. Except for the fact that he has tourettes and twitching, his level of functioning is ABOVE most peoples.

  2. Collin109 says:

    to that person who posted above it sounds like you need learn more about autism just because james seems normal to you doesnt mean hes not autisitc. autism comes in many shapes & forms my friend.

  3. Me says:

    Oh no, not this again! LOL Ocean, you sound like the same person they wrote about in the other story.

  4. Scott says:

    He has stated on the show he has high-functioning autism/Asperger’s and Tourette’s. Thought there are many “standard” symptoms, most will present a few. Knowingly or not, he is at least getting people to realize ASD exists. I understand Ocean’s point of view but this is a success story for someone on the spectrum and let’s leave it at that…

    He is an amazing singer with great tone and he has found his passion. I would never watch American Idol normally but he has sparked my interest to set the PVR and forward through until his time to perform. The Autism community needs to get behind James.

  5. Jocelyn Pritchard says:

    Autism definitely needs a huge boost in public awareness. The numbers are increasing dramatically and the reasons are unclear. So James Durbin can use his position on American Idol to make a difference here. Go for it James! You ROCK in more ways than one!

  6. sherry weaver says:

    It amazes me how people can make comments and don’t have a clue to all the facts about autism.My daughter has autism and tourette’s and can talk,hear a song one time and sing it the next time the singer comes on tv and sings it.She has problems with social settings but once she trusts you…believe me you are her friend for life.She also has high functioning autism.On the other hand my nephews child has autism and he can’t talk,loves hugs and being around people.So as you can see there are many different sides to autism.Yes my daughter and her cousin have some of the same traits but alot are different.There are many levels of autism but all has to do with the make up of ones brain chemistry.Even though James has Aspergers and Tourettes he has dealt with this issue for years and has had many obstacles to overcome.I for one think that he is awesome and is doing a great job.He is an inspiration to parents of autistic children.We too want our child to overcome.God bless James.I hope he wins American Idol.

  7. Susan says:

    Asperger’s exists on a spectrum within the spectrum. Over the course of time, a person can gain in skills and confidence to the point where his Asperger’s is considered a personality trait and no longer a disability. This represents the culmination of years of struggle and hard work, none of which is diminished by the fact that the person doesn’t “seem autistic” to the casual observer.

  8. Sandy says:

    Now now folks. Lets not miss the whole point. The fact is that we have come so far in our accepting those that although may be different but prove they have so much to give. This kid rocks out!

  9. nik111 says:

    Tourettes is a neurological disorder that is genetically pre-disposed. Having several family members with this disorder, I for one am delighted that James has brought positivity to this very misunderstood disorder. Tourettes makes every day a challenge, but many can rise past and live a relatively un-phased life. This is the time for greater understanding and the bullying to cease.

  10. Melissa Long says:

    To the very first comment on here, you need to learn more about Autism before you start posting non-sense! I have two children with Autism and it comes in many forms. I think James is AWESOME and I would love to see him be the next American Idol!!!

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