11th grader with autism rapping debut in school’s music video

He has different abilities, and that’s his talent. Jon Dixon has autism. He’s able to best express himself with music.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla — Students at the North Florida School of Special Education sound like chart toppers with their new hit “Rockstar.”

They made the music video for their annual fundraiser for the school. It’s been on replay with students and their families. 

This music video has been a visual representation of the impact specialized programs can have on students with different needs.

The well kept halls of North Florida School of Special Education are not the prime backdrop for a hard core rap music video, but 11th grader Jon Dixon will make do. 

Like many great rappers of our generation, Dixon is humble.

“Most students here love me a lot,” Dixon said. “And they think I’m the best.”

Truth is, Dixon is authentically himself. He has has autism. He said few words during our interview, but I could tell he was proud of his work with the music video.

“He has risen to fame with his hit single “Rockstar,” his music teacher Ciaran Sontag said. “Through music, his personality has shown through and he has found this new kind confidence in himself.”

Sontag says the impact of music is visible in Dixon, in the sheer contrast of who sits in front of me during the interview and who sits in front of me when the music turns on.

“Whoa, I like to rock and roll. I’m driving a sports car. Playing my guitar I’m on a roll,” Dixon raps. 

Music can transform people, and it shows in Sontag’s class. He teaches students of all abilities.

The music video isn’t merely performative.

“It was everything,” said Dawn Dixon, Jon’s mom. “It was funny. It was beautiful. It was just sort of a perfect representation of the joy that happens on our campus.”

The school is nothing if not inclusive, but it does cost money to go here. The fundraiser helps bridge the gap for tuition and other programs for students.

“Do you love your school?” Dawn asked her son. 

“A lot!” Jon said in a way that surely meant, “obviously!” 

The school fundraiser is called The Giving Tree and it goes through Nov. 6. 

Find out more about the school and how you can donate here.

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