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Friday March 22nd 2019

Jordan Ochab: Learning the Power of Love

Fifteen-year-old Jordan Ochab is the most popular kid in his school. He is intelligent and loves telling people which presidents are on what dollar bills. He has no fear of gracing a stage and has a mean air guitar.

Jordan is also autistic.

On the day of Sterling Public School’s talent show, Jordan – whose mother had been told that he might never have the ability to talk or function normally – sang his rendition of Huey Lewis’s “The Power of Love” complete with dance moves. After the completion of his performance, Jordan was given a standing ovation and was told the talent show had saved the best for last.

“The talent show was amazing. It brought tears to everybody’s eyes. He used to be outgoing, but it was around only people he knew, and now it has become where he can get up there and do that,” Jordan’s mom, Amanda Bartlett said. “There are no words for it. He got up there and owned it. That night, he just gave it his all with his dance moves.”

At two-years-old, Jordan was diagnosed with autism. While his family struggled with his diagnosis, it was not until he and his mother moved to Sterling, Oklahoma, that things began to change. The young rock star had begun to blossom.

“We found out pretty early. He started intervention six months after he was diagnosed. He has been in school ever since. He has been progressing along the way,” Bartlett said. “But since he got here in Sterling, I think he feels accepted by all the kids and just the whole community really.”

Besides the move, Bartlett believes Jordan’s transformation was the result of changes in his home life and help from his dedicated teacher, Jennifer Taylor.

“We’ve had a lot of changes in the past couple of years with Jennifer becoming his teacher,” Bartlett said. “We got a new guy in our life which has just helped a lot with just feeling completely loved by everyone around him.”

Jordan’s family met Taylor four years ago. From their first interactions, Taylor knew there was something special about him.

“Whenever I first met them, I told Amanda, he can do so much more. If he can do this and this, he can do a lot more. Last year, he would mostly just mimic you, and there was not real conversation together. When he stopped, it was like a shock. Even at home, he used to play video games or watch television, but now he’s wanting to discuss those.”

Through his time with Taylor, Jordan has come to find his love for history and mythology. The fifteen-year-old often refers to historical moments and his favorite president Abraham Lincoln – who he dressed up as for Halloween – in his daily conversations.

“I’ve become very educated over history and mythology,” Taylor said. “He can tell you where the Loch Ness Monster is from. Everything that he has read through, he absorbs it all. I don’t know which presidents are on which dollar bills, but he knows that.”

However, his vast knowledge of historical facts and leaders does have its downsides at times.

“Last year, every time I would bring out the math, he would refer to me as Hitler. And when he is really upset with you, he fires you,” Taylor said. “He fires mom at home too.”

However, after he cools down, the well-mannered fifteen-year-old always apologizes.

Jordan had come to love “The Power of Love” from watching “Back to the Future.” After Bartlett and her boyfriend had found and given the Huey Lewis CD to him, Jordan could not go anywhere without it.

“He loves to listen to that song every time we go to Lawton– the whole way,” Bartlett said. “Sometimes, we would even have to have it in the car, or he would get upset and ask for his CD.”

Because of his love for the song, Taylor had come to use “The Power of Love” to calm Jordan down if he was upset or having a bad day. After playing the song for him one day she stumbled upon an idea.

“I knew he sang along with it. I really upset him one day, so I tried calming him down. Nothing had work, so I was like let me find this on YouTube and he started singing along with it,” Taylor said. “Then I asked him, ‘can I videotape you?’ When I taped him, he got up and did his air guitar and everything. So, then I was talking to him about the talent show. He said he wanted to do it. I showed his video to the staff and students that knew him, and everyone told him how well he did.”

After preparing for the performance with his mother and Taylor, Jordan was ready for his turn in the spotlight. The young man not only performed his piece once for his school but also a second time for parents and community members.

“He is always surprising me,” Bartlett said. “He got up there like a pro. He had none of that fear. He stole it.”

After the show, Jordan has grown into another person. While he was outgoing before, Jordan is now a social butterfly.

“Since he performed at the talent show, he interacts and is more demanding than what he used to be. He made mom take him to a pizza party because he was given an invite,” Taylor said. “He had to go.”

Bartlett and Taylor have high hopes for Jordan’s future and plan on assisting him further in his love of singing. While they have plans for Jordan to sing his favorite song at next year’s talent show, his biggest supporters are looking for other opportunities for the rock star.

“We are trying to come up with other times for him to sing,” Taylor said. “We are working on “Johnny B. Goode” for next year.”

After the family’s experiences and Jordan’s transformation, Bartlett hopes to help parents and families facing similar situations. If her son can take the stage and blow audiences away, she believes there is nothing stopping others from doing so as well.

“If anyone is just finding out, it is hard. In ways, it is almost equated to mourning a loss of a child because they tell you don’t expect anything. When you have a baby, you have these hopes and dreams of what they are going to do one day,” Bartlett said. “I still have those. For a while, it was hard and I thought maybe not, but he has amazed me. He can do anything that he sets his mind to do.”

Although the journey has been rough and full of many obstacles along the way, Bartlett said she is amazed at how far her son has come and sees him only as a blessing.

“He’s always been really outgoing, but it is just amazing the change in just a couple of years. It is mind-boggling actually. It is great to see him come out of his shell. They described it as they live in their own world. They don’t even care to be part of this world. But he does. He has come out of that. He loves to interact now. He doesn’t know a stranger these days. God only knows what else he is capable of. We are very blessed.”

Jordan continues to be proof that through all his obstacles, he can do anything that he puts his mind to.

“I am a rock star,” Jordan said.

Readers can find a video of Jordan’s performance at