Ludwig van Beethoven is one of the world’s most famous composers, he was also famously deaf. But Beethoven lost his hearing after he was trained as a professional composer, imagine being born blind and severely autistic and being able to pick up the piano as a child. Thanks to people like Rex Lewis Clack, an autistic savant, you don’t need to go much further than watching the video about his life. Rex was born blind and developed autistic symptoms early on, he was barely walking and talking, but when he was given a keyboard at age two, he took to it like fish to water.
“Before, everything was overwhelming for him. It seemed like [there was] something in the notes that he could relate to and he understood so the world became to make sense to him,” said Cathleen Lewis, Rex’s mother and the founder of the charity Rex and Friends. His parents found out that Rex was extremely sensitive to touch and music.
Rex began performing for large audiences at a young age of seven. Over time this newly discovered skill spilled over into language so he started developing speech, whereas before he didn’t even pronounce a single word.
According to CBS News, Rex can also identify a note when it is played for him, a talent only one in 10,000 people are believed to possess. In other words, he is a true savant. Now 26 years-old, even though Rex spent much of his adult life performing professionally, he often felt lonely so he decided to start a group with other talented musicians, singers, and performers who had autism. Clack wanted to give other disabled performers a voice of their own.
Clack had the idea to create a group called “Rex and Friends” and with the help of his parents, the group has been performing sold out concerts around the world. According to Inspire More, many of the musicians in this group find themselves unable to participate in “normal” activities, but through their performances they hope to show people just how talented those with “disabilities” can be.
According to David Pinto, Rex’s piano teacher who specializes in working with the blind, we may never truly understand what Rex and his friends experience when they hear beautiful music, because that is simply the nature and the mystery of the brain.
“Later on, though, aside from his disability, aside from that he’s an adorable kid, when he’s a grown up, can he compete in the world of music? I think so,” Pinto said.
Here is a video of the group rehearsing together before they put on one of their shows.