Autistic Wichita man gifted guitar to live out performance dream

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WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – A Wichita man known for playing air guitar is smiling big, after a stranger gifted him a real, electric guitar.

Steven Stout, 41, has high functioning autism. He lives with his mom and step-dad in south Wichita. For the last six years, Steven has been putting on shows, playing either an air guitar or a plastic guitar, outside his home on Seneca near 52nd St.

“He likes to play his guitar, sometimes he sings to himself,” said Donna Johnson, Steven’s mom. “They (people) see him out here in the front. We go to QuikTrip on Broadway and they come up and say, ‘we sure do enjoy seeing your son outside.’”

Ricky Navarette is one of the many people who enjoy watching Steven perform.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s raining or shining. I mean, you will be driving by and you will Steven just out there jamming. He kills it. It looks like you’re at an actual concert,” said Navarette.

Navarette, who also lives in south Wichita, said he has been watching Steven play for about five years.

“It doesn’t matter if I’m having a horrible day at work, when I am driving by and you just see his infectious smile and he’s just super happy, you can’t help but just smile and laugh and honk at him,” Navarette said.

That’s one of the reasons why Navarette felt inclined to buy and give Steven an electric guitar. Navarette surprised Steven with the guitar on Monday.

On Thursday afternoon, KSN visited Steven at his home. When the KSN crew arrived, Steven was outside his home playing his new electric guitar. Steven said he plans to use the new guitar, but only for short periods of time because it’s “heavy.”

His mom said she was in awe of Navarette’s kindness toward her son.

“He (Steven) went to school in Wichita and they said he would never amount to anything. We are real proud of him,” Johnson said. “I want to say thank you very much because he really enjoys his music.”

Navarette said he doesn’t expect anything in return. Instead, he said the gift is an investment in Steven’s career.

“I’ve got a front row ticket to the best show in the city,” Navarette said.

Steven said his favorite part about playing outside his home is when fire and EMS crews drive by and honk at him.

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