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South Bend autistic man shows power of music and lyrics

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- With American Idol wrapping up the first round of auditions for the show, ABC57 News is digging deeper.

Why do singers sing? Musicians play?

That answer propels even the most famous of performers. 

With American Idol bringing people around the country together, watching ordinary people try to live out their dreams while expressing themsevles, ABC57 News wanted to figure out what exactly is the power behind music. 

That answer was found within the walls of Behavior Services Therapy in South Bend. 

It's hidden in the beat of a drum, the stroke of a guitar, and a press of a piano key.

"Music helps me express myself," says Will Richards. "It can inspire me."

Richards is 20-years-old and has already written three songs.

"I've always wanted to write a song and I've always wanted to get my feelings out in a song," he adds.

Songs he says, have made who is today.

"When I was in elementary school, they told me I couldn't be in college. I would never make it to college," explains . "Now, I'm in college." 

Diagnosed with autism at just three years old, Richards has had his fair share of hardships.

"[In the songs] I'm calling out people who have been rude to people with autism," he says. 

He's spent the last three years working with a music therapist, honing in on the power of music and lyrics to overcome his obstacles. 

"Over time, I've stopped having the desire to quit. And I started having the desire to keep going," explains Richards. 

"He took all of this hurt and made it into something pretty. He made it into something that people could share," adds Carly Thompson, his music therapist. 

She's been working with Richards for the past few years.

She says, she's seen a huge difference in him since he began his music therapy. 

"A lot of people with disabilities are often overlooked. Especially if they're not able to voice what they're saying. But that doesn't mean they don't have thoughts," Thompson explains. "So if we can help them figure out a way to get their thoughts out, there's real validation and confidence in that."

The validation of having your voice heard.

Expressing yourself, through music and words, is the messsage that American Idol truly embodies. 

"Even if people say i'm not going to make it, I'm not going far...well I have," Richard adds simply.  "I want people know, you can do it."

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