Kevin Richardson ImageBrittany Maier: A Gift of Music

Witnessing a miracle in this day and age is a rare occasion. Some may go searching for them, but most of the time they happen unexpectedly. Brittany Maier, now 15, is blind, autistic and has a rare and remarkable gift for music. I first came to know of Brittany via the website for Broadway and concert singing star Linda Eder. Not long ago I finally had the privilege of meeting Brittany at one of her stunning musical performances.

The story of Eder’s friendship with the Maier family began with a drive they made from their home in Irmo, South Carolina, to one of her North Carolina shows. After the performance, the Maier family had an opportunity to meet the young girl’s icon and an instant friendship was formed. An article written about the visit told of Brittany’s love for Eder’s voice and music, and how the two sat down at the piano, with Eder singing as Brittany played. The story intrigued many Eder fans, and posts about Brittany started appearing on Eder’s website. Brittany’s mother Tammy responded graciously to everyone. By word of mouth along what we call Ederdom, devoted fans of Eder learned that Brittany had a website of her own. Intrigued, I decided to take a look one day to learn more about this talented young lady.

Brittany came into this world on April 9, 1989. She was born four months premature (only 25 weeks into the pregnancy) and weighed just 1.5 pounds at delivery. During her pregnancy Tammy had experienced life-threatening complications from a rare syndrome called HELLP (Hemolysis, Elevated Liver Enzymes, Low Platelets). Brittany’s life began with her first six months spent in the hospital.

One of the complications of her prematurity was blindness. Doctors told her parents there was a possibility for sight with surgery, but unfortunately it was unsuccessful, leaving no future possibilities to restore her vision.

Upon reaching school age, she was placed in the Columbia, South Carolina, public school system. “This did not work, as Columbia PS did not know what to do with her,” her mother recalls. Brittany was then enrolled in the South Carolina School for the Deaf and Blind, where the Maiers discovered that Brittany was having difficulty mentally processing her environment. She was returned to the public schools, where extensive testing was performed. Six-year-old Brittany was discovered to be autistic.

Brittany’s interest in music had become apparent around her first birthday. Music seemed to comfort her—if Tammy put on Dan Fogelberg’s Greatest Hits, Brittany would become content. By age two, Brittany liked a variety of children’s music tapes. By age six she was playing the music from the tapes on a toy piano.

When Brittany’s parents picked her up from school one afternoon, her teachers wanted to make sure they got to experience what the school already had. When Tammy and Brittany’s father Chuck were led to Brittany, she was playing Schubert’s “Ave Maria” note for note on her little toy piano.

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by Bill Budris
Brittany Maier

Read the rest of the interview with your order of ABILITY Magazine. Other articles in the Shandi Finnessey issue including - Letter From The Editor - Gillian Friedman, MD, Humor-Law Made Simple, Headlines - UCP Guide. DOL, DOJ, Cancer Breakthrough, Post Paralympic Games - Record Breaking Results, Steel & Lace - Epilepsy, A Private War, Youth Conference - Cultivating Tomorrows Leaders, Fighting Back - The Importance of Self-Defense, Nat'l Council On Disability - Recommendations, Breast Cancer - Important Information, Christopher Reeve - His Work Lives On, Fashion - New Products and Events, United Nations Update - Back on Track, World Ability Federation, Events and Conferences...subscribe!

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