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Rock the Autism Kicks Off New Year of Musical Outreach

The Boys & Girls Club hosts the charity that introduces kids with developmental disabilities to music.

The San Clemente Boys & Girls Club Tuesday was bumping with the sounds of drum and bass, but there wasn't a rock concert going on.

Rock the Autism was kicking off its 2013 program to further its mission: introducing music and instruments to kids with autism spectrum disorders and other developmental disabilities.

Founder Rock Neidhardt said many kids with such disabilities display a particular aptitude for music. And the kids' parents say the lessons do their children a world of good.

"You can see the love and light in their faces," said Tammy Leonard, who both participates and volunteers with Rock the Autism.

Leonard's son Porter Shanas, 10, has a neurological problem that, in part, causes him to be hypersensitive to sensory stimuli. For instance, he typically wears earplugs in case a train passes. But since he started a year ago with Rock the Autism, Porter has improved greatly, Leonard said.

"Music is such a crucial outlet for him," said Leonard. "When he started getting into music, he started taking out his earplugs."

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