By Darold Treffert, MD
Kodi Lee was born in 1996. At three months of age, he was diagnosed with Optic Nerve Hypoplasia, making him legally blind. At age 4, he was diagnosed with autism. Now 22 years old, Kodi most recently amazed millions of viewers on NBC’s America’s Got Talent.
Kodi is a prodigious musical savant – that is, a person who manifests musical abilities that would be considered extraordinary even in a person who is not autistic. Central to his story is his extraordinary family and their support of his love and passion for music.
Even before Kodi could crawl, his feet played rhythmic beats and with his hands he beat on doors, windows, and trash cans. Fortunately, at age 4 he received the donation of a piano and has been playing and singing since that time. His repertoire includes jazz, pop/rock, and the classics. His style has an almost bluesy flair, and it seems to come from deep within his soul. Kodi has a massive musical memory, storing instantly any piece he hears and being able to recall it exactly at any time.
When Kodi was a child, his parents brought him to Fond du Lac to let me witness his exceptional music and tap dancing abilities. We met at what was then the Windhover Center for the Arts, where Kodi played and tapped out some extraordinary pieces. A Korean film crew was also in attendance for a program which was later featured on the Korean Broadcasting System. Of course, his abilities have leaped to enormous heights since then. The love, encouragement and support of his family have been critical ingredients in his success. Now, thanks to his widely shared audition on national television, he is suddenly known worldwide. Read more about Kodi Lee on his website at https:/kodileerocks.com