Non verbal but blessed with a talent for singing - Samyuktha Arun
She may be non verbal and prefer to communicate in monosyllables but the minute Samyuktha Arun starts to sing, she takes your breath away. This 14-year-old from Chennai can sing a song, perfect in word and tune, after listening to it just once.
Samyuktha was diagnosed with autism-ADHD when she was a year old. For her parents, the news was a total shock. "We went through the usual cycle of anger, denial and depression", says mother Sangeetha.
Can sign a song in English, Hindi, & Tamil after listening to it just once
Her parents put her through speech therapy and and special education classes but up to the age of four years, Samyuktha did not respond. What was clear was her remarkable affinity for music, because she could hum all the nursery tunes she listened to.
"On one instance, she sang 20 rhymes at a stretch in the exact manner that they were played, which was very thrilling" - Sangeetha, Mother
Samyuktha would sing throughout her waking hours. She would listen to a song on the radio in any language - Hindi, Tamil or English - and sing it well.
When her parents decided to put her in special music classes, they faced many barriers. "Most teachers would say that they didn't teach special kids. Finally we were able to admit her to a music academy run by Hitham Trust". Here, she was found to have a talent for Carnatic music, especially bhajans.
The transformation that music has brought in her is remarkable, say her parents.
"This child, who could never sit in one place, sits for as long as 3-5 hours when there is a concert. People don't believe that she is on the autism spectrum"- Sangeetha
Samyuktha cannot read or write, has a photographic memory for music
Her sense of dedication and discipline is something that many of us can learn from. She gets up at 4 AM everyday and goes for her music lessons, without a complaint. She sings at many competitions and events and has won awards.
"People tell me I am blessed to have a child like this. Her speech level may be totally need-based and monosyllabic but what is so special about being normal? I don't believe that the so-called normal is better. She is teaching me so many things", says her proud mother.
Read about the others featured in our series - Children Who Inspire