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Valley Teen Spreads Autism Awareness through Music

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MCALLEN – A Rio Grande Valley teenager is raising autism awareness one note at a time.

The teen is using his music to connect with people around the globe and to show them they are not alone.

Damien Duque spent almost every Saturday performing at Luna’s Coffee House’s open mic nights for the past few months. The artist, also known as City of Dawn, is performing new songs off his second album, Recovery II.

“This is why I do all this… To show people, including those who have autism, that they can do unique things, they can express, they can express it in whatever form of art,” he said.

Duque said he has Asperger syndrome or high-functioning autism.

“It’s more a blessing and a curse, even though autism is very different form of how we communicate, how we relate to others,” he said. “The world is like sort of, full of noise where you just have to go somewhere. But here, we just take it slow movement, take a slow deep space, concentrate… relax.”

He said music has been therapeutic. But he also wanted to share his skills with others in hopes of helping them.

“I’ve received a lot of positive feedbacks amongst the autism groups. Even individuals with autism that they can create during, they can listen to my music and can visualize and do something with it,” he said.

Seres Jaime Magana hosts the open mic nights at Luna’s Coffee House. He said the crowd welcomed Duque and his music with open arms.

“His music just kicked in really well. Everybody just really enjoyed the pleasantness because this is already a very comfortable spot. So, his music just brought this vibe to it,” he said. “A lot of people come and maybe don’t want to participate. But as soon they see people like Damien come forth and just pour out their heart out, even in spite of certain obstacles or whatever, they get inspired and they’re like, ‘I want to sign up too.’”

Duque said he hopes his music will continue to inspire others.

“To bring light and hope for others, not just individuals with autism… but for individuals who fall under depression and anxiety. Just to feel that they’re not alone and that music can really give you the warmth and love and give you that healing,” he said. 

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