Teen with autism rocks National Anthem, shatters stereotypes

Posted at 7:10 PM, Apr 12, 2018

This is Ridge Brown holding the guitar he used to play the national anthem at a high school event in Glendale, Arizona.

What makes the Ironwood High School senior’s performance so remarkable — and the reason why his teacher posted the clip online – is because Ridge has autism and it was the first time he played his guitar publicly.

Ridge’s dad, Glen Brown, told CNN his son has been playing for four years and it took him about six weeks to learn the “Star Spangled Banner.”

Then Friday came, and Ridge strode to the center of his school gym for a pep rally. He stood tentatively for his cue, and started playing.

It was a flawless note-perfect rendition.

Sean Hegarty, the special education teacher at the school, captured the performance on camera and posted it online.

“This is my student Ridge playing the national anthem at our pep assembly today!,” he wrote. “He is amazing! Ridge is a young man with autism and this was his first public performance. Please share and help him go viral!”

Ridge was nonverbal until he was 3. Then he started singing along to the radio.

“It helps me express every emotion I have inside my entire brain,” Ridge told CNN affiliate KNXV.

Brown hopes the video inspires parents of other children with autism to see what kids like Ridge are capable of.

He said Ridge was excited to see the response and attention the video has received.