When Ethan Walmark was just over a year old, his parents began noticing something was not quite right. After having the young boy evaluated, they learned that Ethan was on the autism spectrum. It was also around this time that Ethan was given a toy piano – and they discovered something else special about their young son.
According to an interview in 2017 with People magazine, Ethan’s mother, Allison Ziering Walmark, reported hearing songs like “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” and “Mary Had A Little Lamb” coming from the piano, despite the fact that Ethan had never been taught to play these songs – nevermind that he was still less than two years old.
As it turns out, it was music that would play the largest role in Ethan’s life, as well as that of his family, as they made their way through the ever-challenging world of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) treatment. Over time, Ethan taught himself to play piano, guitar, and drums, finding solace and comfort in the music he created.
It was through a School of Rock program in Fairfield, Connecticut, that Ethan found his happy place – and subsequently, it’s where he discovered that when he played his music, he brought joy to the people around him. Since that time, music has become an integral part of Ethan’s life and through music, he has become a beacon of hope and encouragement for many.
When Ethan was just six years old, he became an internet sensation after the following video of him playing Billy Joel’s “Piano Man” went viral. Now at the age of 13, Ethan is a regular performer, both locally and nationally.
His performances include singing his hit cover of “Piano Man” at the Autism Speaks to Wall Street: 6th Annual Celebrity Chef Gala” and singing the National Anthem at Red Bull Arena prior to a New York Red Bulls soccer game, as well as performances on the “Today Show” and the “Early Show.” But perhaps most notably, in November 2017, he played four songs at the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts in Washington, DC at the first Autism Awareness Gala Fundraiser, a gala put on in partnership with Autism Speaks. As a result of his amazing accomplishments, he was named one of the Top 40 Under 40 by Connecticut Magazine in 2018.
Regardless of diagnoses, labels, and perceptions of “ability,” Ethan is an inspiration to us all. Watch his amazing performance below and watch out, because this kid is going places.
For more inspirational, heartwarming, and funny videos for the whole family, be sure to check out our entire Share Saturday series.