The Lynx Project, a non-profit organization co-founded by Lakota West graduate Megan (McGill) Moore ‘08, will bring a special art song performance to Cincinnati in 2017. An art song is a poem or prose set to music, usually with a singer and a pianist, that lasts about three minutes.
“What makes this performance so special is that the words for the art songs come from people who communicate differently than most,” said Moore. “The four young authors are primarily non-verbal due to their autism, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have a voice. They absolutely do, and what they have to say is incredible.”
Heritage Elementary sixth-grader Rithik Sinhasan is one of the four students selected to take part in the Autism Advocacy Project. Because he cannot speak aloud, Rithik is able to share his voice by spelling out words via the Rapid Prompting Method (RPM) or “letterboarding.”
"Rithik is a testimony to what can happen when we personalize learning methods to the unique needs of our students," said Lynda Theiler, Lakota's executive director of special services K-6. "Using an alternative form of communication such as RPM is an example of how we find a method that maximizes what a student can achieve. It's great to see him now applying his talents to such a productive project."
Rithik and the other young authors are part of the local RPM community.
“I love having a loving group of friends,” said Rithik. “They silently gently form a circle of encouragement." He likens his circle of friends to that of the olive leaves forming an Olympic crown. "Olive leaves linked together form an Olympic crown, our autism joins us like leaves forming a golden link.”
Moore, who has two degrees in vocal performance and is now an emerging professional opera singer, has met with Rithik several times for the project. “He is funny and super friendly, and very smart. His prose and poems are far beyond his age, and he has lots of really amazing things to say. People just need to take the time to listen.”
With sufficient funding, the group hopes to host two premieres in the fall of 2017. One will be a sensory-friendly concert tailored to families who have children with autism, and another will be for the general public.
In one of his writings, Rithik said, “I see light all the time. I see more reflections than you can possibly imagine. Other people look for long but I look for an instant and recall everything. No person really understands the nature of this unless they experience it themselves.”
In line with Rithik's lyrics, the art song performances will give the community an opportunity to gain some insight into the world of autism. Rithik’s is thankful for the opportunity to be part of the project, and to be able to share his thoughts and experiences.
"(It is) really good everybody goes out of their way to engage us," he said. "The selection of good things everywhere offers hope our voices will be heard. First each one was lonely now we are lodestones.” (A lodestone is a naturally magnetized mineral, or the focus of attention or attraction.)
If you would like to learn more about the Lynx Project or make a donation toward its Autism Advocacy Project, click here to visit their website.