Randolph, MA – Twenty-three-year-old Lea Bishop of Quincy grew up always knowing she wanted to work with children with autism. What she didn’t know was that this journey would lead to the release of “All He Has to Say,” a poem/song inspired by her experiences as a teacher at the May Center for Child Development in Randolph, Mass., and created to raise public awareness about autism. The Center, one of five special education schools operated by May Institute, is a full-day, year-round program for children with autism spectrum disorders and other special needs from preschool to age 22.
The inspiration for the song came as one of Ms. Bishop’s colleagues in the classroom was leaving the school to join another division of May Institute. “There is an inextricable bond between teacher and students with autism,” Ms. Bishop explains. “We were talking to the kids about their teacher leaving. Some of them are non-verbal or have difficulty with communication. We weren’t sure whether all of them understood that the teacher wouldn’t be coming back. But then one child got up from the circle and walked over to give her a big hug. For me, that moment captured the connection that exists between the child with autism and the world around him or her,” Ms. Bishop said.
Ms. Bishop began to pursue ways to use the poem to benefit children with autism, build public awareness, and offer support to parents. Professionals in the Boston music community banded together to put Ms. Bishop’s poem to music. The recording “All He Has to Say” features award-winning singer/songwriter aika (Aika Hirahara) on vocals, music by producer/songwriter Nicolas Farmakalidis, with lyrics written by Boston songwriter Will Carr.
Parents moved by the compelling lyrics and beautiful melodies encouraged Ms. Bishop to share the song with other parents looking for encouragement as they face the challenges of parenting a child with autism.
The song is now available for purchase through www.allhehastosay.com, iTunes, and www.cdbaby.com. A portion of the proceeds from sales of the song will be donated to the May Center for Child Development in Randolph, Mass.
Heidi Howard, Chief of Business Development for May Institute, applauds Ms. Bishop for her dedication to her students and to the field. “Not only are we very proud of the dedication and professionalism Lea brings to her students every day, but we are honored to be the recipient of such a creative, high quality endeavor. On behalf of the many families we serve at May Institute, we are deeply grateful for her support.”
Aika will debut the song at Family Night at the Brockton Rox professional baseball game on Wednesday, September 2, 2009, at 7:00 p.m. at Campanelli Stadium in Brockton, Mass. Tickets can be purchased at the event or online at www.roxgroups.com (group password: may). A portion of the event proceeds will benefit May Institute programs and services for children, thanks to the generosity of the Brockton Rox.
Ms. Bishop firmly believes that music is a universal language. “The experiences I have had in the past year with these genuinely remarkable children in this incredible organization continue to inspire me every day,” Bishop said. “I turn to music to help me face challenging situations. I hope this music gives parents and caregivers the sense of hope and optimism I feel when I walk into the classroom every day.”
Ms. Bishop is a teacher’s assistant at the May Center for Child Development in Randolph, Mass. She is also a graduate student at Simmons College where she is pursing a Master’s degree in behavioral education.
About May Institute
May Institute, a national nonprofit organization, provides educational, rehabilitative, and behavioral healthcare services to individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities, brain injury, mental illness, and behavioral healthcare needs. The Institute also provides training and consultation services to professionals, organizations, and public school systems.
Over the past 50 years, May Institute has evolved into an award-winning national network that serves over 25,000 individuals and their families annually at more than 200 service locations in the Northeast, Southeast, and on the West Coast.
May Institute shares its corporate headquarters with the National Autism Center and the May Center for Child Development. Together, the staff members from these organizations represent one of the country’s largest concentrations of on-site clinicians with expertise in autism, developmental disabilities, and applied behavior analysis. For more information on autism, visit our website at www.mayinstitute.org or call 800-778-7601.
Singer/songwriter aika exploded onto the music scene in 2006. Her unique blend of catchy pop melodies and lush harmonic arrangements sent her debut album “Ai-Wo (EMI Music Japan/TrueBlue) to the top 10 Japanese radio charts within the first week of its release. On December 2008, aika co-wrote the song, “Path of Independence” for the Japanese pop star Ayaka Hirahara, which hit the charts at number six and turned gold January 2009.
As the daughter of legendary saxophone player Makoto Hirahara (Columbia Records Japan) and sister of platinum pop star Ayaka Hirahara (Dreamusic), aika has already created a strong buzz and great expectations among the CD buyers as well as within the music industry itself. For more information, visit www.aikahirahara.com.