949 573 8186
To persons on the autism spectrum, truth is truth — and a good word from a person on the spectrum is the real deal.
Generally, a person on the autism spectrum is truly passionate about the things, ideas and people in their lives.
A person on the autism spectrum lives in the moment thus noticing what’s in front of their eyes and not becoming distracted by social cues or random chitchat.
A child or adult on the autism spectrum has a much better memory than their typical peers for all kinds of critical details.
A child on the autism spectrum often sees through superficial appearances - fat, rich, pretty - to discover the real person.
If a person on the autism spectrum tells you what he wants — he is telling you exactly what he wants. Honestly!
Those on the autism spectrum often have a profound positive impact on other’s perceptions, beliefs and expectations.


Putting instruments and microphones in the hands of autistic and special needs children and letting them be free to express themselves enlivens the whole group.


Rock The Autism integrates kids into positive programs to help them thrive.


Our inspiration comes from Luke Santley, son of Joey who sits on our Board of Directors. We have watched him grow into an incredible kid moved by the music.

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Help us bring the gift of music to autistic children. Rock The Autism is a 501c3 organization. 

Special Thanks to Roland

RolandRoland Gear Helps Bring Music into the Lives of
Special-Needs Kids
Read all about it in the Roland blog.

Fighting Autism with Rock ‘n’ Roll

Musicians see up close the difference music can make for children


HomeMusic has always been a way to get young people excited. But a local organization is trying to move beyond just exciting the crowd to help kids dealing with autism and other developmental disorders bring out their inner superstar.

Rock the Autism was born two years ago as a way for local musicians to come together and make a difference, after its founders saw first hand the effect that music could have.

Rocky Neidhardt started the organization late in 2010, after seeing the effect music had on the child of a friend, Joe Santley, a member of the organization’s board of directors.

“He (Luke Santley) sat right down on the drum set and did a perfect drum roll,” Neidhardt recalled. Right away, Neidhardt explained, he saw that music could make a difference in reaching autistic children and adults.

Music has been shown as an effective therapy to help those with autism, as it helps to improve development in a number areas, such as word recognition and pre-writing skills. It also serves as an effective way to help students interact with one another and “neurotypical” children.

After making an appearance at Celebration of Surf in 2011, Neidhardt said the city has fully embraced what the organization is trying to do. It was also at that point that the organization first got together with the Boys & Girls Club of the South Coast Area, where each week, autistic, special needs and non-special needs children come together to sing, get music lessons and play together. The group has been working with students at the Boys & Girls Club for over a year.

“That’s been one of the real breakthroughs,” Neidhardt said. Early on, he said, the program was split into two rooms, one for autistic and special needs children, and the other for neurotypical children. But that separation is no longer necessary, Neidhardt said. “The neurotypical children have fully embraced the special needs and autistic kids. They’re all friends and they’re pulling for each other.”

Neidhardt said he remembered growing up essentially separated from special needs students while in school. “We never really interacted with them. This kind of shatters that.”

Continue reading article in The San Clemente Times.

To learn more, call the Boys & Girls Club at 949-492-0376.

Kids, Instructors Rock the Autism in Music Classes


You never quite know what will happen on Tuesdays at the Boys & Girls Club of the South Coast Area when adult musicians and kids unite for a two-hour jam session called Rock the Autism.

There can be what Nick Hernandez of reggae band Common Sense calls "little miracles." There can be jaw-dropping renditions of pop songs – not so much for their Grammy-caliber style but for their outbursts of joy.

Guitarist Nick Hernandez and drummer Chris Chamberlain present Sean Roth to the audience as he launches into a song at a session of Rock the Autism at the Boys & Girls Club of the South Coast Area in San Clemente.

"One of the kids last night – severely autistic, totally nonverbal – I got him to play and start talking and start singing," Rock the Autism co-founder Joey Santley said after a recent session. "It was just amazing. He was extending the length of eye contact, looking me in the eye, singing and talking with me as he was playing the drums. He just opened up.

"You don't know what it's ever going to be," Santley said. "You just put your heart and soul into it and these kids just respond."

San Clemente residents Santley and Rocky Neidhardt started Rock the Autism to teach music to children with and without disabilities – side by side. Now most of the way through a 12-week pilot program, volunteers Neidhardt, Santley, Hernandez and Chris Chamberlain from a Sublime tribute band have children learning not just music but also tolerance and new friendships.

Continue reading article in The Orange County Register.

To learn more, call the Boys & Girls Club at 949-492-0376.
Contact the writer: fswegles@ocregister.com or 949-492-5127


Our Supporters

The Power of Music

July 16th, 2013
The Time of Music, by Mattia Signò

We talk very often, almost magical power of music. Of how even a simple song can make us feel emotions so intense. Of how a melody is able to evoke feelings and describe worlds even without the use of words.

This immense potential, contained in the notes on the staff, is well known to thousands of educators and therapists around the world who make the music a real medicine to teach and to care for their patients. The far west of America, in sunny California, the association "Rock The Autism" takes care to allow kids with autism or special needs to get their hands on an instrument and venture into the fascinating world of music played.

Scientific research and the valuable experience of this association show that the practice of a tool facilitates the process of literacy of children, also improving social skills and communication skills, and honing skills in learning and concentration.


Luke Santley

Young boy strumming guitar

guitar lesson

Contact Us

Rock The Autism, Inc.
240 Avenida Vista Montana, Suite 16B
San Clemente, CA 92672

949 573 8186, office
949 228 6991, direct line to CEO


2015 Schedule

Boys and Girls Club South Coast
San Clemente, CA

4:00 - 5:00 pm
Special Needs Exclusive

5:00 - 5:30 pm
ALL Inclusive Kids Jam

2015 Special Events and School Assemblies to be announced.