Shawn Stockman of Boyz II Men visits CNET at CES 2019
Welcome back, I'm Bridget Carey.
CES is all about gaining a preview of our technology of the future.
Many of the products Already got tackling current global issues, surrounding things like poverty, health, and education, our next guest believes technology is one of the keys to improving the lives of families living with autism all over the world.
Please welcome Shawn Stockman of the group Boyz-to-Men, his wife Sherronda Stockman, co-founder of their charity, [INAUDIBLE].
And Mr. Brown Rich whose charity, Joshua's Gift, is one of their community partners.
So thank you very much for interrupting your family vacation-
For coming on by here.
It was very exciting.
Thank you, thank you.
Thank you for having us.
Yeah, it's quite the thing growing up, listening to your music in middle school, and now we're here today.
The world is funny that-
Yeah I wanted to start with you, Shoranda
If you could tell me a little bit about the charity and how you guys started because you have a child along spectrum.
We do, his name is Micah, so we name Micah's Voice after Micah.
He's a twin.
I knew very early that something was just different about Micah.
And to kind of put it together quickly, by the time he was one he went quiet.
And so after realizing that we had a long journey ahead of us, when did we need to get started with therapy and treatments.
And a lot of things insurance wasn't covering at the time so we were grateful that what Sean did for a living allowed us the ability to take care of him starting at an early age.
And as our journey continued we realized Cost wise it was just astronomically high.
And the average family can't afford what we spent for Micah for therapy, so we decided to kinda give back and help those families who couldn't receive the resources that we were receiving based on your financial tax bracket.
So we decided to start the foundation Micah's Voice.
Mm-hm, now Tell me a little bit why tech has such an important impact on improving the lives of those with autism.
This is quite simple.
I mean, technology is created to make lives better.
And for the average person, technology helps in so many ways, so being as though we're advocates for autism and We see so many families that need the basic, rudimental help.
Technology can be in the forefront in providing those needs, like simple things like teaching kids with autism their ABC, their math, being able to enjoy a good game that they can understand and it doesn't take too long for them to comprehend.
A movie and things of that nature all that through technology as well as you know common in their condition too like sometimes an autistic child can get a little as we call over stimulated and you know they don't know how to control their bodies With our son we were able to provide him with certain headphones, and things of that nature that when he listened to a certain song, or when he was watching something, things of that nature.
It calmed him down.
So all technological things that can help families with children with the condition.
And this spot, if you can tell me a little bit about your charity, and what you guys are working on.
So Joshua's gift is like Jeranda was saying is also partnering with Mikael voice and we formed Joshua's gift based on our journey as well because our son is also on the autism spectrum, and we wanted like Jeranda also said the emotional and financial toll is really hard.
On our families.
And so we formed Joshuasgift to help families as well get acclimated into society and to be able to take them to a movie theater, or be able to take them to a sporting event, or concert.
It's really challenging for us, and so we wanted to Strategically think of the space that we can put them in that is conducive to their needs while they're also going to sporting events or going to concerts or going to restaurants.
You're talking these like spaces that are more sensory.
Exactly And so Micro Voice is providng that space and the opportunities for them to go into those areas.
When they go out into the general public, but also Joshua's Gift wants to cover the financial cost of families like, they're going to a sporting event, Joshua's Gift wants to take care of the cost of the tickets for them to be able to go.
If they go to a restaurant, Joshua's Gift wants to take care of the cost of their meals.
You know because it is a financial toll on these families.
That is right.
Can you give me a little example of like what those rooms would be like at an arena.
Well go ahead.
Well I think for me what is great about rooms like this in certain areans is that we have twins so it was very hard Where Micah was much younger because he couldn't handle crowds and the noise.
So therefore, when we would go out to outside settings I would keep him behind, and it's hard.
It's hard on a parent to choose which child you're going to take to go and do a family outing because sometimes it's a little hard.
I think we're looking at one of the rooms now.
Yeah, so Where's that at?
That is in Cleveland?
I believe that is Cleveland.
Yeah, the first one was in Cleveland Ohio.
So it allows that okay, well Shaun, the first half you go with Tai, and that half i'll stay in that room with Micah.
So therefore, we can still enjoy the game as a family, and have an outside family outting, but not have to feel like we're alienating Micah because of his condition.
So it's just allows us to steal [UNKNOWN] and not feel the guilt of having [UNKNOWN] one of your kids behind for [UNKNOWN] suffering to a different disabilities.
So as you can see with these rooms for example, you have a lot of amenities, a lot of things that for an autistic child that can touch, see And it calms their sensory, and it gives them something to do with their bodies as well as their minds.
So the quality of life shouldn't change because a family has a child with autism.
So they're outside of this room in Cleveland as well as a few other rooms in the NBA i'm sure they're going to build in the near future.
Just everyday things should provide the same services restaurants, theatres thing of that nature that because people don't understand that there are over 70 million people with autism around the world.
So there is a huge immunity now that we as a society have to take care of.
So we have to make sure that we have all those provisions wherever they go so the families can still be a family.
You guys are At the largest tech show internationally right now.
What can tech companies do more of, or what do you see as an interesting space right now?
I'll tell you right now, that's why I'm here.
I'm having a couple meetings with some headphone companies.
And things of that nature to talk to them about.
Because in our case and I'm sure in all of our cases, music-
Is an integral element for a child with autism.
It calms them down.
It makes them feel good.
You can tell that their whole visage changes and things of that nature.
So I'm talking to some tech companies right now
On trying to provide certain things concerning music headphones and providing a certain kind of music that give children and older kids with autism something that they can relate to something that calms their body literary its something about the vibration.
Of certain things when it's that close to your head and to your ears that soothes them.
So it only makes sense that music and technology can be the next pioneers for children with autism.
I mean music is your life.
That's right right.
Are we talking about what kind of music would these kids wanna listen to.
Well it's funny cuz our son,
He was born listening to classical music, but now he listens to trap music.
He listens to hip hop by the way.
[LAUGH] And he likes it habit on.
And will turn it, and he'll go no, you know?
And i'll change it, what is that?
Yeah, he'll turn it back, and you see him.
Mm, mm, mm.
So i'm like okay.
There's a connection there.
I might not like the record, but it does something for him, so.
And it works wonders, and because here's the thing too.
When our kids wear headphones in public because Headphones are universal now.
So everyone is wearing them in public.
But what people don't understand is when our kids are wearing them in public-
It's because they are overstimulated and we want them to be comfortable and to also be able to cope.
With the sound and the visual inputs that is coming in-
That's right, that's right.
Cuz they can easily go into sensory overload.
And so when they have their headsets on, it helps them adjust really easily into general public.
And so it makes a world of difference.
And I know for my son too, my Gosh, his appreciation for music is so broad.
He can go from [UNKNOWN] immediately to Beethoven in a heartbeat.
And they love music.
They love music.
It is so common.
Yeah, the fact is, music And autism is connected.
There is healing factor to music.
So again talk [UNKNOWN] people that are here to try and really put together and do it in a really big way to help Many people at one time.
<< Were you trying to give your son, at any time, like here's what Daddy sings, you know?
[LAUGH] << You know what, he's gone to a couple of our concerts and he gets bored at this point, you know, he's not as impressed anymore << From one song that [INAUDIBLE] sings So far the one they're saying.
Yeah, well actually we do Motown covers, and there's a song called Tracks of My Tears by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles.
So there's this part my partner Juane does, and he'll stop everything and just go Yeah.
he is like, "I like that part.
I don't like daddy so much".
But that one, that is good, that is good.
That is good singing right there.
So I am like, whatever, as long as you enjoy it.
So again, being, all of us, as parents of children with autism.
We see what works and we see what doesn't.
And technologically music is a huge element in this whole thing.
So I'm just trying to help be you know along with all of us be in the forefront in putting those two elements together and making changes for some kids.
It also helps with language because I found myself being able to teach my son how to talk by listening to music.
Because he was listening to it repeatitively.
And then once I got him singing.
Yeah, it's over.
Then Speaking and talking became a little easier.
It was amazing.
And then even some of the other technology, because I love this show, because there's just so many things that are out there that I think it really help bridge the gap Between the way our kids are able to communicate or not.
And imagine a physician telling you, or going to a doctor and them telling you that your child will never talk.
We all got that.
And then you go, the technology industry says, yes, we can help them talk.
So here's an assisted language.
Device that your child can use through the press of a button.
[INAUDIBLE] Post something on a tablet.
Yeah, post something on a tablet that can speak for them.
That's still way of communicating.
You still can hear them say maybe for the first time, Mum I love you.
It's a world of difference, yes.
Not to mention, to the typical human being, when they see certain kids with these particular things it adds a level of empathy for them too.
They know, they're aware, Micah's voice is also Really big on awareness of letting others know that these kids are not unapproachable, you can approach them if you know how to, and things that nature, that also helps with technology for those people who want to know more about autism, looking it up on an app.
Looking it up on certain things that come up on tablets and things of that nature.
So again, information is key, and being able to have that, the quickest is through technology.
That's why we're here.
It's great to think about what's possible then.
You have a residency here, right?
Or perform here.
I was going to ask, was there anything you want to announce about what you gys are working on?
The guys and I have a residency at tbe Mirage.
We've been there for about five years and we just signed for the Mirage for three more years.
So we'll be there, and I have to do a shameless plug, I do have a solo album that's coming out-
And the single is out right now, it's in the top ten in the Urban AC Charts, and that's pretty much it.
Just doing our thing, doing what Micah's Voice and Just trying to make a better quality of life for kids like our kid.
Thank you so much for all the work you're doing.
It's making a big difference.
I think so.
Appreciate your time.
I'm expecting so, yeah.
No, thank you.
All right, thank you Shawn.
Sharonda and Mizpah for joining.
We are going to