Niklas Watkins: The X Factor
Niklas Watkins is a teenager with Fragile X syndrome, a genetic condition which results in a spectrum of characteristic physical and intellectual limitations and emotional and behavioral features. Niklas loves to sing, and has been happy to do so ever since Judith Muir gave him his first IMH lesson when he was only five years old. In fact, like many with communication challenges, singing has always come more naturally to him than his regular speech, which tends to be disjointed and limited to two or three word sentences – his singing, by contrast, has a deep sense of flow, and he has a remarkable memory for the words. Perhaps even more important, there is a sense of heartfelt, personal communication in his singing that touches everyone who hears him.
Listen to Niklas sing one of his favorite songs, the jazz standard “All of Me.”
And here he is singing another favorite, “It Had to be You.” This was recorded about a year earlier.
Niklas is a long-time member of our Sing Out! Reach Out! Program , where people with developmental disabilities sing with seniors in retirement communities. When he started doing the program, he found it hard in part because of the social and sensory integration challenges associated with Fragile X. Over time, he has changed remarkably, and is now one of the most forward and interactive members. And he knows the words to all the songs we sing! Here is Ron Watkins, Niklas’s father talking about his involvement with the Program.
If you would like to know more of Niklas’s condition, Fragile X, take a look at the Wikipedia entry and check out the website of FRAXA, an important nonprofit organization funding research into the syndrome.