One Student’s Transition from Brain Injury to Jazz Drummer


Meet Austin Gardner, Kennedy Krieger High School student and all-around “Renaissance man." Austin was accidentally shot in July 2010 and arrived at Kennedy Krieger unable to move his right side or speak. He was treated by the traumatic brain injury team and fought to regain his ability to take a few steps, moving from wheelchair to walker to walking by himself. From there, Austin was seen at Kennedy Krieger’s Specialized Transition Program, where he worked to regain his voice and learn the necessary skills to make his transition to Kennedy Krieger High School.

Austin has always loved music, and the music therapy program at the high school provided him the means to work out his frustrations by playing the drums and, later, a keyboard. Austin was the featured performer at the Kennedy Krieger Society annual spring event playing freestyle jazz for guests and has also performed at the Institute’s largest annual fundraiser, Festival of Trees. Austin is a student in the Hospitality and Tourism program offered through the high school.

A talented chef, Austin prepares delectable dinners for his family and recently got his first job as a cook at Bengies Drive-In Theatre in Middle River, MD. Austin has also had the opportunity to develop his skills as an artisan wood crafter, selling his delicate handmade ornaments during the holidays. Congratulations to Austin for his hard work and determination!