Steve Earle, whose son has autism, to host New York City benefit show

EMBED </>More Videos

Sandy Kenyon has the story.

A school in Manhattan is helping children with autism by providing each student with his or her own teacher.

The one-on-one approach has helped the son of a Grammy-winning singer, who is now helping the school.

Steve Earle has been making albums for more than 30 years, and his songs have been covered by the likes of Johnny Cash and Joan Baez. He has also raised money for a lot of causes, but this one, he said, is personal.

Earle wrote the song "Remember Me" about his young son after becoming a father again in his mid-50s, but what lends the tune its special meaning is the fact John Henry was diagnosed with autism.

"He'd started talking early," he said. "And then suddenly, at 19 months, in a month, two months at the most, all his words went away."

For the performer, who was on tour, it was heartbreaking. But in the years since, Earle has found comfort and hope at The Keswell School in Chelsea. There, each student works one on one with a teacher.

"Our goal is always to help our students adapt to their natural environment," the head of the school, Ivy Feldman, said. "Help them communicate, to help them find things they love to do and help them express that to other people."

And it's a mix of the old and the new, as iPads and old fashioned pictures are used.

"A lot of students are frustrated because they can't say what they want," Feldman said.

The therapy has helped Earle's son start talking again.

"Recently, John Henry said three words in five days," he said. "So that, to me, is a lot of progress."

Now, Earle is giving back to those who have given his son so much, recruiting famous friends for the John Henry's Friends benefit concert to raise money for The Keswell School.

"There will be 1,300 people in the room, and they will come for the music," Earle said. "But they'll leave knowing more about autism than they did before."

The benefit will be held at Town Hall on December 5 and features special guests Graham Nash and Shawn Colvin. Earle and his band will perform his first album, "Guitar Town," in its entirety three decades after it was recorded.

He is also selling tickets to the dress rehearsal at City Winery on December 4. For details, visit

Related Topics:
entertainmententertainmentsandy kenyonautismChelseaNew York City
(Copyright ©2017 WABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.)

Load Comments