Texas Students Surprise Classmate With Autism by Singing 'YMCA'

By Inside Edition Staff
Copyright (c) 2018 CBS Studios Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Jay Abatte is passionate about music, from Motown classics to modern hits. It's also how the 14-year-old, who has autism, sometimes lets other people know how he is feeling. 

"When he's upset, there's certain songs that he will ask for and I will know, OK, he's having a hard time and that's his way of telling me: 'This song to help me get through what I'm feeling,'" his special education teacher, Lori Blizzard, told InsideEdition.com. "When he is happy, he will ask for different songs, and that's how I know how Jay feels." 

So when his classmates on the girls' athletics teams at North Richland Middle School in Richland Hills, Texas, decided to surprise Jay with a song, Blizzard knew he would be thrilled. As he entered the cafeteria, his classmates belted out the Village People's "YMCA."

"It was so amazing to see the smile on his face and just how excited he was," she said. "I was smiling so hard. He sang the song rest of the day." 

Blizzard said many of the students she works with have varying communication skills. But through music, they can communicate with each other. 

"It's like an acceptance of these students, like, OK, maybe they can't hold a conversation with you like another seventh- or eighth-grade student will talk with you, but you know they have feelings, they have joy, they have sadness, they have anger. They feel the same things that you feel and they just express it differently," Blizzard said. "To see the inclusion was just a very heartfelt moment for me." 

Blizzard said the impact of that song lasted long after the music stopped. 

"After that, as I was walking down the hallways of our school with our class, we were having all these students greeting my students, saying 'Hey,' giving them high-fives and fist-bumps and everything else. My kids just love having that time with the other students and seeing them and talking to them," she said. 

Jay, who heads to high school next year, also uses his laptop to make his own music. He told InsideEdition.com he would like to work with music when he's grown up, too.

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