Music helps Rukesh to handle Autism

An article written and shared by WORTH Trust.

One must listen to Rukesh sing before you ever come to know him. His song can make any one stop their work and turn to see who is singing. He is such a talented singer. He was born on 13.10.1996 at Varanthangal,

Rukesh is a young boy with Autism. He was born at Vanranthangal, small village located a few kilometers away from Vellore. He was a full term child and cried at birth like any other child. When he was 5 months old his father was transferred to Pune (He was working for the army). On his 1st birthday Rukesh folded his hands and prayed to God .He was able to talk a few words like any other child of that age. When Rukesh was 1 ½ years old they came to Vanranthangal (their native place) to visit his Grandparents. There was heavy rain during that time. Rukesh fell sick, he had high fever for a day, He was given Paracetamol for three days and the fever came down, but after this his speech started to deteriorate.
They returned back to Pune after a month after which his parents took him to the Baby Friend private Hospital. The doctor tested him, he asked Rukesh to stack blocks which he was able to do it. Then the doctor hid a block and Rukesh found it, seeing this doctor said that the child was normal, but Rukesh stopped talking and started becoming very hyperactive. He was not able to stay in a place he kept running here and there. He started throwing everything out, through the window even the bed spreads.
Once when Rukesh‘s mother got up in the middle of her sleep in the night (1:30 am ) she found the whole room filled with wheat flour. He had been throwing it up to see it flying in the air. The days were becoming miserable for Rukesh’s mother as she found it difficult to control him. Once Rukesh’s mother could not find him in the house (they lived in a 4 storied building) she searched for him in the lower two floors and outside the house and could not find him. They even informed the police. The police wanted a photograph so his mother went up to their house to get it. When she entered to her amazement he was in the hall playing cricket. Rukesh’s mother used to hit him not knowing what to do and used to cry after that.
They took the child to commando hospital their they checked and said that he had hearing loss and prescribed hearing aids and was asked to come for training for a few days to teach the ways of using the hearing aid. On one such occasion one lady told Rukesh‘s mother to take him to Nimhans, Bangalore. She specifically told Rukesh‘s mother not to think that it is a Psychiatric Hospital and avoid taking him there. She said that it would be the only place that could help them.

Rukesh‘s mother decided to come back to Vellore, at one point of time. Then Rukesh, his mother and his brother Vivek came back to Vellore. Rukesh’s Father stayed back in Pune. Vivek joined a nearby school. Rukesh’s Mother took him to Nambikkai Nilayam on the advice of a relative who had a child with intellectual disability.
At Nambikkai Nilayam he was diagnosed as having Autism and was asked to attend a 3 months course of training. It took 3 months to complete the assessment. As he was very hyperactive he could not cooperate for the assessment. They found that he had only 6 months development at the age of 3yrs. Rukesh attended 1 year review after the training. Rewards were given for positive behaviours.
Rukesh‘s parents decided to build a house in Gandhinagar, Vellore. So that they would be able to attend Nambikkai Nilayam training more regularly as they had a lot of problems at home. Rukesh’s mother had difficulty taking care of the two children. She could not give much attention to Vivek so he lagged in his education. When Rukesh was 5yrs old his parents took him to Thirupathi temple which is about 4 hours from Vellore. Rukesh got lost in the railway station in Thirupathi. They searched everywhere and informed the police but they could not find him. After 4 days, they found him in an orphanage in Ranipet, another town near Vellore in a different direction.

Rukesh with his Family

They continued training at Nambikkai Nilayam. Rukesh used to say words that were not meaningful. One day after Watching a TV serial he sang the song “Yappa appa iyyappa” those were the first words he said after he lost his speech .After this he started singing all the title songs that used to come on TV including the advertisements.
In Nambikkai Nilayam they prescribed Tab.Adwize to reduce his hyperactivity. Rukesh was then referred to Mrs Vani’s Centre (Self-help group of Nambikkai Nilayam parents of children with intellectual disabilities). They attended that Centre for a year then they admitted him in a primary school next to his house. There Rukesh learnt alphabets, numbers and tables from the charts that were put up in the school. This school was closed after the Kumbakkonam issue (Were more than 100 children died in a fire accident due to improper exit for children to escape). After this they admitted him in a Government Middle school were one day when his mother went with lunch, Rukesh had got into the water tank undressed and everyone including the teachers were standing and watching the fun. After this incident Rukesh’s mother stopped him from that school and approached Nambikkai Nilayam for guidance. They referred him back to WORTH Trust.

He came to WORTH trust on 3rd of November 2007. During assessment the therapist kept looking around searching for something, as she was interviewing the parents. Then finally asked where the song was being played, for which Rukesh mother has said it was her son singing. She made Rukesh sing a few songs. After listening to it, the therapist asked what have you done to train him. Rukesh’s mother said what can be done to a child like him. For this the therapist said I will help you show this child’s talent to the world. After Rukesh joined WORTH, on 14th November 2007 Rukesh sang on stage for the first time in children’s day program held in WORTH Trust. Rukesh could not face the mike and sing, even 3 persons were not enough to hold him as he kept turning here and there. After he sang the song Rukesh’s father came running to the therapist and held her hand and cried saying that he could not find words to thank her, but he was able to see a bright future for his son.
Rukesh sang for the second time on a bigger stage in Vellore. Listening to his song one would have thought that the song was being played on a music system. Two 12th grade students from Ida scudder school Vellore came to play the accompaniment music for his song while practicing, before the stage program one of them made a mistake while playing the keyboard. Rukesh angrily pushed his hand off and played the music by himself. This was when we came to know that he had an innate ability to play the keyboard. WORTH Trust assisted in getting a new keyboard for Rukesh to learn.
It was very easy for Rukesh to play the music once he listens to someone play the music on the keyboard. So WORTH helped in finding a better music master (one of the best musician in Vellore town) to train Rukesh. After a very long search of nearly 1 year they found Mr. Wilson Navaraj a very able music master. In the meantime Rukesh’s father fell sick and was hospitalized for nearly 3-4 months. He had T.B Meningitis. As Rukesh’s mother had to help her husband she could not accompany him for training. Rukesh was unable to tolerate the separation from his mother so he displayed temper tantrums.

Rukesh used to bang his head on the wall or any furniture if his needs were refused. He used to like the voice of the therapist so he used to make her repeat a few statements over and over again eg;“Computer ketu pochi thukipotu  laptop vangalaam”(If the computer is not working throw it and buy a new laptop) ‘2020 .la car vangalaam’ (lets buy a new car in 2020) etc.  Sometimes she would have to repeat it 10-15 times or  he will cry or bang his head on the wall. She used to say it to calm him down. It took time for the therapist to know his temperament and to adjust accordingly.

Rukesh had difficulty expressing his needs; He could not identify others with their names. He will not eat anything given by others, but will take from other by himself. He did not know how to ask for anything. He was finding it difficult to manage without his mother, because his mother was his mouth. She understood his needs, his every move, his expressions, his feeling and emotions. Slowly he shifted the dependency partly on the therapist. He called her ma and wanted her to understand him. He would feel comfortable even to eat from her Tiffin box. She was the only other person out of the family he depended on.
By the time Rukesh’s father recovered it was nearly a year. He lost his hearing other than that he did not have any residual problems. Within a few months of his recovery, Rukesh’s grandmother fell sick and passed away. So there was long gap in a methodological training. His mother started accompanying him, after which he became more compliant. Slowly and steadily Rukesh started showing a lot of improvement. WORTH Trust was an all-time support for the therapist and teacher who trained Rukesh. Rukesh climbed the stairs of success steadily. Rukesh sings in almost all the programs in WORTH Trust .Slowly he has learnt to hold the mike and stand alone and sing. With karaoke music he was trained to sing. Songs were written and given to him so that there were no flaw’s in what he sang.

Mr. Wilson made music lessons easier for him to learn. The Therapist and Rukesh’s mother were asked to learn music with Rukesh, so that they can help him with simpler methods. With the guidance of the therapist Rukesh’s mother made various teaching aids to describe what a whole note, half note and quarter note was etc. Rukesh learnt music with ease. He was taught English& Tamil and simple Arithmetic. Rukesh also learnt all home management activities. He started making Coffee, Dosai, Chappathi etc. He helped his mother in cutting vegetables. He washed his clothes and ironed them.
Rukesh’s social skills were improved by training. He learnt who is who by their names. He learnt to go and ask someone for something .He learnt to purchase simple item from a nearby shop. In music he did initial grade exam in the year 2011 November. It was a practical exam held by the Trinity College of London (It is one of the music colleges in the world which held exams in various countries .There are 8 grades of exams) Rukesh scored 95 percent and came first in the exam. He appeared with 3 other normal children.

Rukesh with Examiner, Trinity College London

Rukesh continues to learn music he has done his 1 grade practical and theory exam. He is waiting for the result. The other area where he has showed significant improvement is in art where he got the third prize at block level and once at district level in the drawing competitions held by the ICCW. He took part in a speech competition held by the Forest department .He spoke about the conservation of wild life and got 1st prize at district and state level. As he had lot of dyspraxia so he had difficulty in copying actions. He used to dance like a doll in bomallatam. (Dolls held by thread and would dance as the threads are being pulled). Now he is able to dance in a group and his dance synchronizes with the actions of the others in the group. Rukesh has learnt to say the days of the dates we say from the year1900 -2099.

Rukesh receiving prize from District Collector Mr. Shankar

 Rukesh’s family is a big blessing for him. His father after his illness has retired from work he takes care of the house which includes cooking while his mother is a full term teacher for Rukesh training him in everything. Rukesh’s brother Vivek is the greatest blessing for Rukesh. Vivek always feels proud to have a brother like Rukesh. He saved his pocket money to get good gifts for him. Once he got a CD Man for Rukesh and as he didn’t have enough money to come back home by bus. He walked back nearly 8 km to reach home .He takes Rukesh with him to all his friends’ houses and proudly introduces him as HIS BROTHER. Vivek is Rukesh’s only best friend. Rukesh is a multi-talented child .He has fought with Autistic behaviors and has excelled in many areas.

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One thought on “Music helps Rukesh to handle Autism

  1. I know Master Rukesh when I was working in WORTH Trust from 2010 to 2015. Very talented and used to be like a family member of WORTH Trust. Rukesh is always an inspiration to all the staff and tudents of WORTH Trust. Under the leadership of Mrs. Vinnarasi Geetha Madam every one who associates with Worth Rehabilitation will turn as a family, supporting each others, exposing their talents and proving that they are no lesser than the normal set of people.

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