REPORTS: Autistic, Non-Verbal 4-year-old Communicates Using Lil Nas X’s ‘Old Town Road’ in Viral Video
By Kerry Justich,Yahoo Lifestyle | A mother-of-four in Cottage Grove, Minn., is thanking Lil Nas X after his song “Old Town Road” inspired her nearly non-verbal son with autism to sing.
Sheletta and Shawn Brundidge are parents to 4 children — Andrew, 12, Brandon, 6, Cameron, 5, and Daniel, 4, — of which the youngest three have all been diagnosed with autism. However, Sheletta tells Yahoo Lifestyle that Daniel, the baby of the family, hasn’t responded as well to therapy as the others.
“[Daniel] only can do three word phrases, like ‘I want bottle’ or ‘go outside, mommy,’” Sheletta shares. “We say sometimes he’s here but he’s not present.”
When it came to the hit song that his older siblings have been jamming out to daily, however, it turns out that Daniel was soaking in more than Sheletta had thought.
“He’s heard it for months, ever since it came out. But he hasn’t really sang along or participated with the other kids,” Sheletta says. “They’re out there jamming and enjoying it. And he’s kind of in the background, kind of taking it in.”
In a rare quiet moment in the family’s home, Sheletta says that she and Daniel were hanging out in the kitchen when she suddenly heard her son humming the familiar tune.
“When he started saying those words, I lost it,” Sheletta says.
Then, she took out her phone.
The mom and host of the podcast Two Haute Mamas on WCCO Radio posted the video to Twitter last Tuesday to share the “miracle” with her followers. In the days since, it’s been viewed more than one million times.
She tells Yahoo Lifestyle that the nine second clip is a breakthrough in understanding how they can communicate with their son going forward.
“For him not to be taught something by a professional, but to hear it, absorb it and recall it all on his own, that lets us know he’s ready. And we’ve been speaking the wrong language,” she explains. “He just needs us to speak his language, and his language is music.”
Now, Daniel’s therapists are using the song in his sessions as a reinforcer to get him to learn new things. The family hopes that other songs can continue to help him open up.
“We’re gonna try some other songs because apparently ‘Mary Had a Little Lamb’ and ‘Row Row Row Your Boat’ is not gonna work for my child,” Sheletta jokes. “Lil Nas X’s light has shined on my child, and now we know what to do and how to reach him.”
Sheletta’s tweet: We had an #oldtownroad miracle at my house. My son Daniel has #autism and doesn’t talk. We caught him humming the @LilNasX and @billyraycyrus tune the other day. Then Bless God, my baby started singing the song on his own. His therapists have started to use it in his sessions!
Photo: Shawn and Sheletta Brundidge are parents to Andrew, 12, Brandon, 6, Daniel, 4, Cameron, 5, pictured left to right. (Photo courtesy of Sheletta Brundidge)