From autistic to artistic - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

From autistic to artistic

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - At 73 years old, Ruby Barnard is a bouncy bundle of barrelhouse jazz, but it wasn't long ago that this grandmother had a bit of the blues.

"I started on raising my grandson, he has Asperger's ADHD," Ruby said.

So grandma brought her music into a special needs school in San Diego called Sierra Academy.

"Trying to see if that would empower them, more positive skills and social skills," she said.

Ruby started working with her grandson and a young man named Ben who could not articulate a word.

"His body goes into tremors, but we allow him to use the shakers, so when he shakes he also has the ability to keep time. So now he is able to perform," Ruby said.

Next, she put together a group of special needs young adults called Grandma Ruby and the Gems. Now they put on concerts.

"We'd like the community to know that these are human beings just like everybody else. They have gifts, they have talents and they have feelings.

"When these children say 'Grandma Ruby, I love you,' that's worth it all. It's worth every penny. To be accepted, to be loved by these children… I do it because I love them," she said.

The Gems have a new CD called "We Can Make It." They'll be hosting a music gala and CD release party, this Sunday in El Cajon. Ruby's trio will play, and the Gems will sing. All money raised goes to special needs programs.

If you go, be prepared to be the moved by magic of the music and the love of a grandmother who's pure heart and soul.

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