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PLANO -- They sat in the stands of Plano's Clark Stadium Thursday night; two beautiful boys with beautiful minds, which inspired their father to create beautiful art.

'It's very cathartic for me. When I write something, it helps release the emotions, things like that,' said David Herring, band director at Plano ISD's Shepton High School.

Herring wrote and arranged a halftime performance called 'Solving Puzzles in the Dark.' It is about raising children with autism.

He is dad to 10-year-old Brennan and 12-year-old Graeam. Both are on the autism spectrum.

'There's that moment when you realize the child you thought you brought into the world is not that child you have,' he said. 'Then there's the moment you know you're going to love them forever, no matter what.'

The show begins with the band skipping onto the field. It has narration between the music, with a band member reciting statistics and facts, and at times, emotional highs and lows.

The show earned high marks at UIL competition, and it has earned high praise from all who've seen it.

'Oh, I cried the first time I saw it, to be honest with you,' said Cristina Hayes, whose son is a member of the band. 'I just couldn't believe it.'

Herring said he's humbled. He's received e-mails from people he doesn't even know who say they were touched and moved by what they saw.

The show is 'esoteric' Herring said. It is also intellectual, just like the boys on which it's based.

'I want people to know that autism isn't a disease, it's a neurological difference,' said Herring's 10-year-old son Brennan, 'because I don't want people to stay away from me because they don't want to catch it.'

Thursday night was the band's final marching performance of 'Solving Puzzles in the Dark,' but thanks to a season of hard work and dedication, Brennan's message is being heard.

E-mail twoodard@wfaa.com

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