Contrary to common belief, children diagnosed with autism can grow up to lead fulfilling, successful lives. Composer, playwright, Eric Scot Frydler proves that life’s challenges can cripple us or make us stronger.
Diagnosed with autism as a child, when little was known about the neurological disorder, Frydler had trouble relating to peers. His teachers described him as an “enigma” and a “non-conformist.” At age five, however, he made a beautiful discovery: music spoke to him. Music became his way to express himself as well as connect with others.
Originally from Queens, New York, as a teenager, Frydler publicly played a song he had written on piano. Although impressed with Frydler’s performance, Lazlo Halasz, composer and founder of the New York City Opera, could see the boy didn’t fit the mold for the usual music school. Instead, Halasz invited Frydler to audit masters’ classes. Throughout his high school years, Frydler soaked up advanced music language at Stony Brook and Julliard, two colleges well-known for their excellence. This unconventional education prepared Frydler for composing music professionally.
Frydler’s can-do spirit and creative view of the world presented unexpected paths. In his late twenties, after a project for composing music fell through in Los Angeles, he answered an advertisement that read: “Child Genius Wanted” – to design toys for Mattel. He got the job and developed Roboto, a transparent robot, part of the Masters of the Universe series. He also wrote stories and comic books about toys like He-Man, Popples, and Rainbow Brite. His name still appears on the Advanced Concepts Inventors list for both Hasbro and Mattel.
However, Frydler has found success in pursuing what he loves most: theater and music.
“To this day,” he says in describing his creative process, “when I am envisioning and imagining, I go to that world inside my head, tempered by the craft I’ve acquired as a writer and composer.”
Harrison, and he composed the original score. Magical Forest, performed at the Coronado Playhouse, is a musical he wrote that emphasizes belief in oneself and conservation. He has also composed music for film including: Sheriff of Contention, a western; Vampyre, a music video; Sweet Amazon, a documentary, and The Last Supper, a film which aired on Trinity Broadcasting. Currently, he is the Producing Artistic Director at Carbon Based Life Theater in Carlsbad, California.
“People have had difficulties throughout history dealing with exceptional people . . .” Frydler points out. “Our challenge as a society is to find a way to communicate with them, not ostracize them . . . but to interact with them and benefit from each other.”
Throughout the years, Frydler believes his music has been an advantage in helping him to learn how to communicate with others. In fact, he swears he won his wife’s heart playing an original piece called “In Dreams” for her on a grand piano at the Wyndham Hotel at Emerald Plaza in San Diego. When asked about his success in the face of autism,
“Hideo Sakata, a Japanese martial artist, once told me I have Samurai spirit,” Frydler says. “I never give up. Never!”
“Many people accept other people’s self-limiting beliefs, and that is a mistake. You have to be true to yourself, to be fearless.” Frydler advises. “Never let someone else interfere with what you’re here to do.”
Hey, that’s good advice for all of us!