Therapist-cum-author in Chennai wins Kalaimamani

Lakshmi Mohan

“Where words fail, music speaks,” Danish author Hans Christian Andersen once said. While it is true in many instances, it is no different for Lakshmi Mohan, a resident of Nanganallur, Chennai.

Being a Carnatic vocal artiste, for she is a music therapist and works extensively with autistic children. Recognising her accomplishments, she was awarded with ‘Kalaimamani’ in vocal category.

The seed was sown by accident 18 years ago, Lakshmi tells News Today. Way back in 2000, she read that raagas can help heal people with autism; she did not believe and rubbed it off.

However, Lakshmi wanted to delve deep into the impact of music on such children. “Following which I volunteered at a school for teaching bhajans where I interacted with differently-abled children that changed my life altogether,” she recalls.

Lakshmi was worried about how the autistic children would understand, but one incident motivated her. “Once I had to take a break for a week.”

However, she was surprised to know how one child asked about my absence. Recalling the incident, she shares, “One of the teachers told me that one of the children was standing near the gate expecting my arrival. The child began rendering the bhajan I sang when the staff took him back to the class, asking about my absence.” Slowly, the parents requested the 48-year-old artiste for separate sessions to be handled.

‘The children went back home and sang whenever they felt like doing so. On seeing which, the parents felt elated on the development. Following which, she began doing music therapy and the strength grew to 70 from one, in a steady manner.”

For the welfare of deserving people from underprivileged community, she does music therapy for free of cost. Lakshmi began exploring several niches of autism. As years grew by, she published books related to the same titled – My Musical Journey and Ivargalin Isai Payanam in two parts based on the feedback received from the parents.

Asked why she penned two books in Tamil, she says, ‘During the time of publishing, several parents and care-takers did not have understanding about neurological disorders and to aid the same I chose to express in the vernacular language.’The therapist has so far written around 32 books related to autism and the role of music in bettering them.

Lakshmi has even documented the lives of such people who possess extraordinary talent. Giving an example, she adds, “One of my students, Aishwarya (38), is talented in cracking jigsaw puzzles, about which I wrote in my novel Beach’ Peter Sir’ Lollypop. Similarly, my other novels Singam… Pena… Dora and Sivappum Sila Enkalum speaks about art and the capacity of remembering vehicle registration numbers, respectively.” However, she is not done yet. Soon, Lakshmi is going to publish Advaita and Autism, blending two different concepts.

Wish her at 99621 29333.

Bhavani Prabhakar