“Autistic children need genuine friends, not sympathy”

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Great show: Samuel Ashish Marcus, performing at a conference at the Pondicherry University on Tuesday. —
Great show: Samuel Ashish Marcus, performing at a conference at the Pondicherry University on Tuesday. —

Serena Josephine. M

International meet on ‘Autism: Social Skills and Creativity’

PUDUCHERRY: “I like music very much,” said 22-year-old Samuel Ashish Marcus, a person with autism, who plays guitar and keyboard and has over 10 compositions to his credit. Thanks to early recognition and proper nurturing of his skills, Marcus, who wants to achieve much more with music, comes as an example of how autistic children should be reached at an early age.

Marcus, who lives in Hyderabad, was in Puducherry for a two-day international conference on ‘Autism: Social Skills and Creativity’ organised by the Pondicherry University. He enthralled the audience with a music performance on Tuesday evening.

For his mother, Annamma, the journey has been filled with a myriad of experiences. “Marcus was a premature, Caesarean child. A week after birth, he had very high fever and was given high dose of drugs. He was a healthy baby and was fond of music from a young age. Yet, we sensed that he never demanded anything like other children and was aloof. By the age of four, we found he was a high-functioning autistic child after medical assessment,” she recalled.

Filled with passion for music, Marcus started to learn to play instruments from 1995. “He learned to play guitar using an advanced guitar learning book and is now doing the sixth grade in keyboard with the Trinity College of Music. He is part of the church choir and is good at special numbers. Marcus is more of a soloist than a group performer. His compositions are more devotional, about beauty and people,” she said.

Marcus studied up to Standard VII under ICSE board. Presently, he is studying computer science at a centre for exceptional children in Hyderabad. He has passed English and Computer Science through open school and has to clear three to four subjects more. “Music is his life. We have given him an own room with musical instruments. In fact, Marcus wants to bring out an album of his compositions,” she stated.

She exhorted parents of autistic children not to give up, to explore, let the child be himself/herself and give all help. “These children need genuine friends and not sympathy,” she insisted. With plenty of love for music, Marcus said: “I want to learn violin.”



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