Famous People With Aspergers: Travis Meeks

Famous People With Asperger’s: Travis Meeks

Every so often I like to highlight famous people with Asperger’s.

In this article, I’m featuring a musician named Travis Meeks.  Travis Meeks is a lead singer, songwriter, and guitarist.  You can find out more about him at his personal MySpace Website.  And he’s an Aspie.

I am Travis Meeks. I am an artist. I am a Maestro of my craft. I am a human being. I am a lot of things. I am a recovering addict. I have Asperger’s Syndrome. I am a good person. I do get angry and aggravated, I am human, but I work on things everyday. I live a life of both light and dark and  finding the balance between those two… and that reflects in my music and art.

– Travis Meeks

Background

Travis’ father played with Elvis Presley’s brother-in-law.  So he has music in his genes.  His father, Gary, relocated to Fort Worth, Texas, from Travis’ birth town of Charlestown, Indiana.

Gary, Travis’ father, characterized Travis as an introvert.

Travis was a real introvert.  I always knew he was.  The music was kind of his saving grace.  It was his therapy and his way of communication.

Talents

famous people with Asperger's

Musician

As a child, Meeks worked at a music store.  He learned to play the guitar at 9 years old.  Later, he started playing clubs, and received a recording contract.  In 1994, he started a heavy metal band.  In 1995, he moved that band to Louiville, KY, and the band’s name was changed from Dead Reckoning to Days of the New.

Creativity and Commitment to Excellence

Meeks received a lot of attention for his unique use of a blend of acoustic guitar with acoustic rock, post-grunge style.

One can see Meeks’ creativity and commitment to excellence through his self-styled title of “maestro.”  He’s morphed his musical style from heavy metal, to acoustic rock and post-grunge, to a more world music sound,   In his most recent productions, he has incorporated classical and ethnic arrangements in addition to his acoustic sounds.

Challenges

Dealing With Fame

Travis reports that being suddenly famous and in front of people was a challenge.  He was offered drugs, he was not aware of people’s ulterior motives, and he was either catered to with his not so great choices with drugs, or he got into fights with other people because of some of his social challenges.

Interpersonal Challenges

Meeks, and his original band members, Matt Taul, Todd Whitener, and Jesse Vest, parted ways over creative differences.  Travis Meeks ended up transforming Days of the New into a solo project, while the other three band members formed their own band.

Some reported that he had fired all three band members.  However, Travis later disagreed with that report, stating that the band members had been jealous that he was writing all the songs and receiving all the royalty checks.

Drug Addiction

Meeks developed addictions to painkillers, alcohol, and methamphetamine from as early as 2000 through 2005.  Meeks reports that he’d been in seven treatment centers, beginning at age 11, on and off throughout his life, until 2005.

Behavior Challenges

According to Wikipedia, Travis developed a reputation for being a ‘behavior problem.’  He often got into fights. He himself writes in his autobiography that he threw chairs at teachers, rebelled against his school, and ended up in special schooling. He wrote that his father moved him to Louisville, Kentucky, because he was close to getting in trouble with the law and facing juvenile detention.

One of the most difficult root causes for these behavior difficulties came from not realizing his diagnosis of Aspergers.

Because he did not understand how he was different, he reports living with a constant sense of shame:

I lived with intense shame and the feeling of extreme inadequacy. Everything I felt I did was
wrong and that I could do nothing right.

I wasn’t diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome until 2005. In the past from 1987 until 2005 I have been misdiagnosed with ADD, bi-polar, manic-depressive, post dramatic syndrome, Paranoia disorder, etc. These misdiagnoses and lack of genuine attention and compassion caused me a lot of pain and suffering, including multiple medications and unnecessary behavioral convictions. I Felt Framed and misplaced… I was treated as a criminal in a one way thinking society. Thanks to my father Gary Meeks, he knew I was different and tried to protect me from the vultures of punishment. I felt severely punished anyway by the way I felt when I was removed from my comfort zones such as putting me in school.

Lessons We Can Learn from This Famous Person With Aspergers

Recognize the Challenges of the Autism Spectrum

Travis reports that being suddenly famous and in front of people was a challenge.  He was offered drugs, he was not aware of people’s ulterior motives, and he was either catered to with his not so great choices with drugs, or he got into fights with other people because of some of his social challenges.

Once he became aware of his diagnosis, he was able to recognize the root causes of his relationship and self-esteem issues.  And he was able to go to work on them, as we read in his autobiography.

Get Help

 I was on my way to a mental institution for good — or prison — and music was the one thing that saved my life. Getting clean and sober was also going to free me of my victimization… the feeling that I could not escape.

The above quote highlights a paradox: getting help can feel difficult, yet can also be liberating.

On the one hand, Travis felt that all the treatment he endured growing up was like a prison.  He refers to it as the prison of psychology that his father put him in to keep him from going to literal real prison.

On the other hand, as we can see from the above quote, it was getting clean and sober, as well as accepting his diagnosis and his strengths, that has Travis  to a solid footing on which he is now able to live and produce music at a higher level than before.

These next lessons come out of quotes from Travis’ own writings:

Reach Out and Stay Connected

 I practice compassion, I practice hugs, and I do the best I can. I live in my own world and I tried to manifest daily of what’s inside of my soul and I continue make progress, and within the two years I have been touring again, I have succeeded and met many achievements

Be Honest With Yourself About Your Diagnosis, Your Gifts, and Your Flaws

Part of what I do is to liberate myself through being honest about my struggles. I have problems with  women due to narcissism and social disorder, which is part of Asperger’s Syndrome. I need no [sympathy], Asperger’s Syndrome is just a way to describe what’s going on with me or identify, not an excuse or reason to devaluate, or separate my humanity from yours

Cultivate and Develop Your Talents and Passions

 My art is my mentor and through my stories of trials and tribulations, it has taught me to stay  grounded in what I believe in. I want to give back to the world my experiences, and influences from what I’ve learned.

I’ve developed a huge amount of respect for Travis Meeks through my research for this article.

References Cited:

Wikipedia article about Travis Meeks

You’re Talking To A Miracle (article from Leo Weekly)

Follow Up Video of Travis Meeks after being on A&E’s show, Interventions.

Travis Meeks’ Autobiography (pdf article)

photo credit: Stinkie Pinkie

What lessons do you most resonate with?  How will you put them into practice today?

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  1. [...] Travis Meeks, a successful Asperger’s musician, said this: ” My art is my mentor and through my stories of trials and tribulations, it has taught me to stay  grounded in what I believe in. I want to give back to the world my experiences, and influences from what I’ve learned.” [...]

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