David Ren is a student-musician who, when diagnosed with autism and “poor muscle tone” at age four, could not even hold a pencil. Now in his mid-twenties, David gardens, plays basketball, practices martial arts, studies three languages and has sufficient mastery of piano, harp and ocarina that in 2014 he performed a one-man benefit concert, raising almost $5,000 for Friends of Children with Special Needs.
Having overcome many obstacles, David says he still struggles with “putting my own thoughts together.” With diligent effort, he extended his attention span from under 30 seconds to over an hour—quite an accomplishment. He learns constantly, with strong family support. “Everything he had trouble with we made sure to challenge him with it,” says older brother Alex.
When asked how the music video made him feel, David said, “Excited!” Accustomed to his own at-home recording sessions, David was amazed that the studio used by EIAS staff was soundproof—a great pleasure to him, along with “meeting all the people who helped.”
From weakness to strength, David says he has overcome “90 percent” of the challenges facing him. The remaining 10 percent include writing and better auditory comprehension. “I’ll keep learning,” he said.
Meanwhile, his mother Jennifer boasts that David just memorized the longest poem in Chinese literature, almost 2,400 characters. “He has a very good memory,” she said.