Viet Nam News
Nguyệt Thu, founder of the Apaixonado (Passion) Quartet, speaks with Bùi Quỳnh Hoa about how she has worked with her son with autism, her devotion to helping children with the illness and launching the first school for autistic children in Việt Nam.
Nguyệt Thu was born into a musical family in Hà Nội and started studying violin at the age of six. She topped the list of candidates for the entrance test into Việt Nam National Academy of Music. From 1989 to 1999, Thu went to Tchaikovsky Music Academy in Moscow, Russia, and completed her degree with distinction, majoring in viola performances, under the tutelage of Professor Yuri Bashmet. Since 1995, Thu has been working as a violist at the Glazunov string quartet led by M. Berlinsky, a well-known cellist from Borodin quartet. She also won many prestigious prizes at international viola competitions in the United Kingdom and Russia. Thu played at home and internationally in various performances for orchestras and chamber music, at the position of a viola principal and a soloist. She returned to her motherland in 2014 and brought a new style of classical music to the audience.
Inner Sanctum: As an ambassador of the Sunrise for U programme for children with autism in Việt Nam, could you share your views about people with autism?
As an Ambassador of Sunrise for U, I believe there exists another world full of happiness and peace - a world of people with autism.
Inner Sanctum: As the mother of a child with autism, could you share the challenges and feelings you have faced in supporting him to overcome the disease in daily life?
It is a long story with a lot of emotion, of suffering and hopelessness, but by the end, love could change everything.
When my son was two years old, I found out he had autism with the usual behaviour. He could not stay around a lot of people. He did not want to change into new clothes. He used to make a scene in public places such as in shops or on the streets. When he was four, he did not talk at all. My life spiralled out of control and into hopelessness. It was even harder for me because I had no idea about autism at that time.
But he is my son, my angel. I could not leave him alone. I did everything to help him adjust to our life. And slowly, he began playing with other children, talk a little and smile. His smile kept me alive and gave me hope to enter his world. It is said that love is a bridge linking our hearts. Significantly, music turned him into a lovely person who liked to help others. He helped me understand his world so I could treat him as a normal boy. He gave me a chance to see their wishes, which people don’t want to see. I believe that with love, respect and patience, only we, as parents, can help our children.
I took him to so many places where we could find good education. And now, at age 15, the miracle has occurred. My son can now speak fluently in four languages. So never lose hope!
Inner Sanctum: Have you received support from your family and society in the fight against autism?
My boy was born in Holland, so there were fewer problems within the community and people do care about people with such difficulties. There is no tussle when dealing with such differences.
Inner Sanctum: How is your son now? Has he integrated completely into society in this manner?
My son still has autism, but he has a kind heart, and he can take care of himself. He loves to help and share with others. He can do a lot of stuff without difficulty but it is still hard for him to face stress and noise. He still prefers staying in his world which is more quiet and peaceful.
Inner Sanctum: What could you say about music therapy for the illness?
Music is good for everybody and especially for children with autism. It touches a point to ease their stress and suffering. I used to calm my son when he got over-emotional. So I decided to open an art school for children with talents (to me, the children with autism are all talents).
Inner Sanctum: You founded the School for Arts, the first school for autistic children in Việt Nam last year. Could you tell us something about the school?
Children found happiness in my schools because here they have friends who live in the same circumstances as them and they understand each other. They are also taught to impress themselves. Here, we teach not only music therapy but also dancing, speech therapy, and drama therapy, in addition to mathematics, vocational guidance and living skills. Music therapy helps the children become more confident and willing to stay in touch with others. Right now, I have got three art schools in the country with some 45 students and, thank God, all of them are smart.
Inner Sanctum: Have you got any plan to support them so that they can live independently?
In my opinion, children with autism that I have met are very intelligent but they are at different levels. So, along with activities to raise fund for our children, we want to provide them with complete education. We have different classes for each student. Helping them trust themselves to live and work independently in life and finding them suitable jobs are also our concerns. VNS