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Pianist says autism helps him compose music: ‘People who are autistic do have great abilities’

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LANCASTER, Pa. -- Every summer, pianos are placed around Lancaster, Pennsylvania free for anyone to play. One man with autism has made playing the pianos a part of his daily routine.

Every time Brad Minnig of Mountville, Pennsylvania sits on a bench, he's not playing from memory. He says the music just comes to him. You could call it an escape, or just a way for Minnig to express what he can't always say.

"It's my way of wandering away from reality," explained Minnig.

He played an original tune for WPMT, straight from the heart.

"I think it's actually the emotion that arose when I knew that you guys were here," he said.

Some people would call his talent a gift.

"I hear something in my mind -- I create it," said Minnig. "That's what leads me to believe why it came natural."

Minnig said his family discovered it as a child.

"When I found that piano, I just started playing," explained Minnig. "Mom was shocked because she said, 'My son never played piano!'"

Minnig said his autism has helped him along the way.

"Autism actually plays a part in why I am fully dedicated to keep after it, because it's an obsession," explained Minnig.

Minnig said he also has a desire to prove people wrong.

"I was a victim of bullying. People -- teachers, professionals, students -- they didn't understand autism. They thought I was never going to graduate high school," said Minnig.

Minnig now composes just about every day. He has 19 albums and hundreds of songs. He takes full advantage of Music For Everyone's Keys for the City which involves more than 120 pianos placed around Lancaster, Pennsylvania since 2009.

"Every day, I make an effort to come down," said Minnig.

"I really believe in him, and I think he's an amazing young man, and he truly brings out what we at Music For Everyone believe in, and that's the power of music," said Deb Rohrer with Music For Everyone.

"I'm tired of people saying, 'You can't do something', and put a label on you," stated Minnig.

He said he's hoping to make a global impact and show the world his talents.

"People who are autistic do have great abilities," said Minnig.

Minnig said he wanted to thank everyone who has helped him over the years -- teachers, friends, family, people in the community.

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