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Young Boy With Asperger’s Syndrome Finds Harmony In World Famous PS22 Chorus

by Roxy Garrity
Roxy is a reporter and writer for LittleThings. Born in North Carolina, she graduated with a journalism degree from the University of Florida, and now lives in Manhattan. She's drawn to uplifting stories that inspire her audience, and she has interviewed a range of compelling public figures, such as President Obama and Taylor Swift. She loves live music, yoga, art, traveling, all animals, and meeting new people. Send her your story ideas or just say hi!

To listen to 10-year-old Eddie Johnson now, as he pours his heart and soul into his singing, you would never know that he was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome when he was just 2 years old.

A member of the elite PS22 Chorus on Staten Island, Johnson has not only learned how to interact with his peers, but he’s also sung with everyone from Eric Hutchinson to groups like A Great Big World, and has performed in the group’s wildly popular YouTube videos. But for Johnson, being a part of a group wasn’t always so easy.

Before joining chorus, Johnson’s mom, Jennifer Livingston, said he had a lot of trouble controlling his symptoms and would not be able “to be in a social situation,” and he would frequently act out and found it hard to get along with other children.

Gregg Breinberg, founder and director of the now world-famous chorus, recalled that when he asked Johnson why he likes singing, the 10-year-old said, “Because whenever I have a bad day or something, it always makes me feel better, it gets all my stress out. I’m just in with the music and I feel great.”

“If you did not know he had Asperger’s, you would never know,” said Breinberg. “You see this boy singing and you’re like ‘WOW, what a soulful child.'”

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Fresh off their debut on the TODAY show, LittleThings invited country duo LOCASH to sing their hit single “I Love This Life” with Johnson and the rest of the PS22 Chorus.

Simona Bua / LittleThings

Preston Brust, singer and songwriter for LOCASH, told the PS22 Chorus, “What you guys are doing out here is real, and you can feel it from your hearts and your souls. I just had a little girl, and I want her to grow up to be like you guys.”

Simona Bua / LittleThings

For Breinberg, teaching his students how to make magical harmonies is just part of the fun, but he also enjoys watching kids like Johnson grow as people. “Eddie’s learning to interact with his peers and be confident in what he’s doing and honestly he learns to stand up for himself,” he said.

Simona Bua / LittleThings

Check out Eddie’s full story and the PS22 Chorus singing “I Love This Life” with LOCASH in our exclusive video below, and please SHARE their incredible story with your friends and family!

You can watch the full performance of “I Love This Life” with LOCASH featuring the PS22 Chorus on their Facebook page here.

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