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Martin Nievera vouches for music’s power on people with autism

April 29 ------ As a singer, Martin Nievera has seen the important role that music has played in raising his youngest son Santino who is on the autism spectrum. 


“Music, it’s very important for all those on the spectrum, because music is about math, it’s rhythm. There are combinations, there’s a beginning, middle, and an end. It’s pleasing to the ear. There’s a beat. All of these things help those on the spectrum,” he told in an interview at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City on April 22, at the sidelines of the pre-walk show for Autism Society Philippines’ (ASP) “Angels Walk for Autism.” Nievera said Santino can sing like he does, even pitch perfect, and has also taken a liking to drums. “So music is very important. It soothes them, it educates them, like the drums. It’s all about rhythm in numbers, 4-4, 3-4, 2-4. All of these things are very complex things for, maybe, those who are not on the spectrum. But very much needed for those who are,” he said. 


ASD (autism spectrum disorder) could be confusing to many, but he noticed that more and more people are getting aware of its complexities, and have proactively pushed for inclusivity in society. “I seem to see more of it now in the Philippines than ever before. ‘Di ba (doesn’t it), don’t you feel it? I can feel it,” Nievera said. “I think it’s because one of out of every five or six kids is on the spectrum. And that’s worldwide, it’s not just in the Philippines. And I think the big-name celebrities, the very wealthy people, should stop hiding behind the guilt or the shame of having kids on the spectrum. It happens,” he continued. 


Nievera also encouraged his fellow celebrities to rally towards “awareness, acceptance, action, there’s so many different ‘A’ words.” He also appealed to them to “forget about talent fees, and forget about egos, and put them all aside. Because there’s so many people who need our help. If the big-name stars could get involved, more people will know about people with ASD.” He cited the pre-walk event as a perfect example of where and how people, influential or not, can take part to help those on the spectrum. “In the amount of people that are here to support, I think there’s more people here who are not on the spectrum, but we’re here to support and want to know more about it. I think that’s one great move, is the willingness to accept that there are people, and children especially, who are on the spectrum,” the singer said. Nievera said ASD has become a societal equalizer, because those on the spectrum belong to all walks of life. “If it can happen to a big-name celebrity, it can happen to you. It can happen to anyone. So we are all even when it comes to being on the spectrum,” he explained. He also commended those who ASP has honored at the pre-walk show, who included reigning Miss Universe Philippines Michelle Marquez Dee who received the Hans T. Sy Leadership Award for Autism Inclusion and Welfare. “They always call kids on the spectrum ‘special.’ Actually, it’s the people around these kids who are special. So I’m proud to be a special father,” Nievera said. 




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