The Reluctant Front Man
Singer is Unstoppable Despite the Challenges of Asperger’s Syndrome and the Pandemic
Taneytown, MD – The past year has been challenging for all of us. But, for 27-year-old Jack Gurecki, the singer and front man for the rock band Ignite the Fire, the pandemic has been especially problematic.
“I don’t know how it works for neurotypical people, but socializing doesn’t really come naturally to me,” says Jack who has Asperger’s Syndrome. “There’s a lot of mechanisms that I fall back on. I call them equations. Small talk plus funny joke equals good conversation.”
Diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome at the age of four, Jack sees the world in a very different way. He doesn’t always understand the subtle nuisances that make for social interaction. He has trouble with sarcasm and takes things literally. He avoids eye contact. And he can often come off as quirky, a little different.
|“Socializing is something I need to practice in order to be good at it,” says Jack. “Empathy seems to come as a given for someone who is neurotypical. And for me it doesn’t come as a given, so to speak. I’ve noticed that most people can empathize with each other just by looking at each other. And it may fluctuate. It may be harder for some. It may be easier for some. For me though it definitely doesn’t come naturally.”
And while socializing may take effort on his part, he understands its necessity and the impact a lack of it can have on an individual.
“I can’t speak for everyone on the spectrum, but I can say that for me there are times where social interaction is necessary,” says Jack. “It’s good. Even if we’re not talking. Even if we’re just sharing the oxygen of each other for a while. That’s all that matters. You know, we like having somebody near us. We’re social creatures at the end of the day. We may be socially different, but we are still social creatures just like everyone else.”
Since joining the band nearly a decade ago, Jack has worked hard to become a powerful presence on stage, overcoming the challenges of his Asperger’s and connecting with audiences who thrill to his soaring vocals. But he is concerned how the pandemic may change all of that.
“This is one of the things I’m worried about,” he says. “Losing these skills during the pandemic. My ability to socialize comes through practice. To go through a year without practicing is kind of intimidating.”
The Reluctant Frontman
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