Chennai: Ask him any date and he will tell which day it is and will be. Meet Arun Nandagopal (21), the Nanganallur resident in the city suburban area who has imbibed this skill since childhood that too without anyone teaching him.
Even after suffering from Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) since birth, he has successfully learnt to say the day not for a mere hundred dates or so, but for 2000 years in total.
This reporter had a chat with his mother Anuradha (48) to know more.
Q: Let’s know about your son’s early life.
A: Arun is our only child. My husband Radhakrishnan (55) is a Storage Inspection Officer at Central Warehousing Corporation.
We are live on Nanganallur 16th Street. Right from birth, Arun has been suffering from ASD. Like everyone else when we were about to enrol him in academics, some of our friends and acquaintances advised us about the problems associated with the regular education stream and explained how art can make a difference to my child’s life. Then, we made the right decision of striking out a different path for him.
Q: How did you go about educating him?
A: We came to know about Lakshmi Mohan, the founder of Sowmanasya Trust.
She is a music therapist who works with people with special needs, especially autism.
We wasted no time and enrolled our son there. Since then, he has imbibed many skills in music including the one discussed above. Right now, Arun is learning at her centre in Keelkattalai.
Q: Tell us about his skills.
A: He can play the keyboard for any Carnatic song. He can recite 100 slokams, including Sahasranamam and sing Keerthanais.
He is an A grade Carnatic musician in the institution. In addition, he has also passed 10th standard from National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS). He will soon be participating in many competitions to exhibit his skills.
Q: What were the challenges you faced in bringing him up?
A: There were many. We never got any support from outside. We raised him with hard work and commitment. I am a home-maker and spent most of my life with him.
My only aim is to keep him happy and engaged in something that’s productive in his life. I will be extending my full support for his growth in the days to come also.
Q: What’s next for Arun?
A: With the help of Sowmanasya Trust, we are slowly unearthing many of his inherent talents. We will continue doing this. We will soon be exhibiting his skills and set an example for many other children who are suffering from ASD.
To know more about Arun Nandagopal, contact his mother Anuradha at 9444992139.
A DIFFERENT DIRECTION
Speaking to this reporter, Lakshmi Mohan, said,”Time and again, many parents of children with ASD push them into regular education which is very difficult for them and will never bring out their inherent talents. While some pass the exams, some dont. Even if we consider the children who passed academics, their career opportunities are feeble. Researching and teaching about ASD for over two decades, I came to know that children suffering from the disorder can easily excel in art forms like singing and yoga. So, parents should take this approach here onwards.”
For details, contact her at 9962129333.