Song album plan to help autistic boy

TESSA JOHNSTONE
Last updated 05:00 27/11/2013
Mark Davis with his three-year-old son, Blake,
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ALBUM FOR BLAKE: Mark Davis with his three-year-old son, Blake.

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A Kiwi man's efforts to raise money for the care of his autistic son in Australia have won the backing of his teenage heroes and a cluster of New Zealand musicians.

Mark Davis, formerly of Wellington, is putting together an album called Songs For Blake so his family can pay for specialist support services available to them in Melbourne.

Davis, fiancee Misty Taylor and their sons Ethan, 5, and Blake, 3, had been on a "rollercoaster of emotion" since Blake was diagnosed with autism in February, and were then told in September that his condition was severe.

They have weighed up coming home, but after research into what was available in both countries, said it made more sense to stay in Australia.

"We just thought we'll stay here and give it a shot. You only want the best for your child, right?"

Although Australia has funding available to support children with autism, because Blake's family are New Zealanders they are not able to access it.

So after being inspired by a YouTube video of Jack Black singing a duet with an autistic teenager, Davis emailed every musician he knew or admired to see if they would contribute to a fundraiser album.

His teenage hero Shawn Smith, a Seattle singer-songwriter in bands such as Brad, said yes, and soon Davis had enough replies to get the project off the ground.

Songs For Blake will be released digitally early next year, featuring the likes of The Phoenix Foundation, So So Modern and Adi Dick, and artists from Australia and the United States.

Davis said Blake was happy and healthy but had difficulties with communication and social skills, and would need support with things such as toilet training.

Working with a speech therapist, he had mastered a few words, with his first full sentence so far being: "I want iPad."

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- Fairfax Media

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