Video: Music puts Bryce on new levels

SOMETIMES Dave and Susan Ackerly think their son Bryce isn’t taking in anything in at all, then he’ll surprise them with a moment of genius.
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Bryce, 9, might have managed to memorise a full television weather forecast or calculated in 20 seconds how many puzzle pieces were in the puzzle his brother was working on.

They’ll be left standing there wondering just how he’s done it, while Byrce is off again — engrossed in his own world.

Click play to meet Bryce and his parents.

The Aspect Riverina School student, who lives at Thurgoona, was diagnosed with autism at three years old, soon after it was realised he had a love for music.

Mrs Ackerly said that as a young boy Bryce wouldn’t respond to their calls to come inside the house, but they found they could lure him in by turning on the radio.

“It was any music, he’d just love to listen to it,” she said.

“He’d come near so he could hear it, so you could get him to eat something or take a bath or whatever.”

At school, his teacher would often observe Bryce moving his fingers as if playing a piece of music.

His piano teacher, Jacqui Dainer, believes her student has exceptional talent.

In September, NSW children’s charity Variety bought him a new piano on which he happily practises every day.

In the time it would take most children to complete a music book from the Australian Music Examination Board, Bryce has finished three.

Music encourages him to spend time with people, an important breakthrough for a student who lacks the social skills to play team sport or join a scout group like his older brother, Kurtis.

His mother said Bryce can get upset when someone disrupts his routines and patterns and sometimes he hasn’t hesitated to tell off a taxi driver for going a different way to school.

Byrce is among an estimated one in 100 Australians on the autism spectrum.

Tomorrow is World Autism Awareness Day, celebrating achievements of people with autism, recognising their families’ experience and generally lifting public awareness of what it all means.

Bryce Ackerly, 9, loves playing his new piano at his Thurgoona home. Picture: DAVID THORPE.

People can support the day by dressing in blue.

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