An Era of Conscience

From Autistic to Artistic -- David Ren, Golden State Youth Ambassador

Anne Lin, California, USA

David Ren, 2013 Golden State Youth Ambassador and Gold Winner of the 2013 Yvonne La Mothe Schwager Harp Competition, was an autistic child. He has been actively participated in charity events, given talks at seminars, and brought hopes to many families with autistic kids in the California Bay Area.


David Ren, an exceptionally gifted 21 years old music student with highly acclaimed titles such as 2013 Golden State Youth Ambassador and Gold Winner of the 2013 Yvonne La Mothe Schwager Harp Competition, was also an autistic child. David's remarkable achievements would not be attainable without an extraordinary mother, Ms. Jennifer Chen, stood behind him. Jennifer fully believes in her son's potential and she has big hopes and dreams for David. In addition, it really is Jennifer's perseverance that attributed to her son's success today. David now plays seven different musical instruments, including piano, harp, guitar, zither, wooden recorder, flute and ocarina. Even more impressively, this mother and son duo had been sharing their story entitled "From Autistic to Artistic" at many charity events and seminars in the California Bay Area. Their incredible story both inspired and brought hopes to many families with autistic children. More recently, they actively participated in an international campaign "An Era of Conscience". With their positive energies, they wish to encourage everyone in the world to have a good faith, be conscientious, and would like to build a better tomorrow together for our world.

After David's outstanding performance at the Yvonne La Mothe Schwager Harp Competition last year, he was invited by the organizer to participated in the California State Youth Accolades Scholarship competition. He was actually the first special needs applicant in the history of the competition. This competition is known to be a challenging one even for a non-special needs student. This scholarship competition judges on several categories, including: community service involvements, an one minute speech, a talent contest and an on-stage quiz. Despite the great difficulties, David took the lead in the contests and won the Golden State Youth Ambassador title. So, how did he do it? It turns out that in the past seventeen years, David and his mother continued facing the challenges that his autism brought about. They made tremendous efforts to make sure that they would never give-up their hopes! Given an especially impressive performance at the One Minute Speech event during the contests, David overcame what most autism children have the greatest difficulties with, such as the social interactions and limitations in communication. He gave a touching speech that was admired by many. In his speech, he talked about his wishes and his desires to raise awareness and care for autistic children. 


Mom Jennifer recalls David's earlier years; young David had an attention deficit and suffered serious allergy problems. He was extremely sensitive to sounds, unable to make eye contact, and has difficulties with social interactions. Also, there was a sign of challenges in communication and language problems, troubles in coordination of fine and gross motor skills, as well as an obsessive tendency toward spinning objects. David was diagnosed by Children's Health Council in Palo Alto as high-functioning autism when he was four and a half years old. Jennifer told us that “when the diagnose was made, I just genuinely wanted to find out what impedes his development even if he is not your own son.” She didn't allow herself to be self-pity or complaining about David's conditions for no good reason. All she wanted to do was to help her own son get better. Jennifer mentioned her love for martial arts novels when she was young, she especially enjoyed reading about those characters with a kind and chivalrous heart. She felt like she possesses an invisible sword of justice and had a strong desire to use this sword to remove all the thorns along the road over his son's challenging life journey. It didn't take too long after David's diagnose for Jennifer to quickly adjust herself. She knew that it's better for them to accept the problem right away without spending time on feeling upset. She also determined to face all their challenges with a positive attitude. She said, "all my family members, including David himself, have worked very hard to overcome the obstacles impeding his development. We’ve focused our energy on fighting this mysterious developmental disease as a team."

Jennifer Chen (right, David's mom) and David Ren (Left) are very pleased to have the opportunity to participate in "An Era of Conscience" campaign. Two of them wish everyone can be as happy as themselves. The mother and son duo encourage all the families with autistic children to have a good faith and believe that with conscience, we can create a better future.  

In addition, Jennifer also described herself acting like a detective handling with a case. First, she made careful observations to understand what kind of assistance her son really needs. Then, she paid attentions to find some important clues and tried out different methods to see if they could find ways to improve her son's conditions. For example, Jennifer thought to let David take up a music instrument to train his fine muscles for a better coordination and motor skills. She also tried to make dietary adjustment for David and that seemed to help with his allergies. After years of efforts, Jennifer really saw the differences and improvements. She noticed David had a much better attention span and sounds no longer bother him. When David was nine years old, he finally was also able to make eye contact while talking to people. Now, David is able to play music instruments with an undivided attention and focus; he also has an amazing finger strength and dexterity.


Today, David has overcome so many challenges in his life. He becomes a talented and modest young adult who is sociable and enjoys doing community services. Jennifer pointed out his achievements came from his positive attitudes to accept his own problems, willing to make changes, and work harder than anyone else. In David's own words, he said, "I am a high-functioning autistic person. Over the past 17 years, I have overcome lots of my difficulties. I am good at music and Chinese calligraphy. I would like to help everyone with special needs to pursue a happy life just like me." While Jennifer told us passionately, "I observed my son closely and tried to find out what’s the obstacle staying in the way of his development. Luckily, I can solve everything piece by piece.  Through hard work, he now is a very happy and successful young man. I want to encourage with my whole heart for parents with special needs children.  Never give up! Persistent work will turn out to be a very sweet fruits to your life, and your child also will have the right to pursue a happy life. Please don’t forget this. I wish you all the best!"


Earlier this year, the Association of World Citizens (AWC), the Federation of World Peace and Love (FOWPAL), and Tai Ji Men Qigong Academy (TJM) co-sponsored the "An Era of Conscience" campaign. Jennifer Chen and David Ren were very happy to have the opportunity to participate in the campaign. They believe this movement help protecting conscience in people's hearts and promoting good intentions in everyone. Through gathering all the goodwill and the power of love from all of us, we will build a better world for our future. Jennifer and David especially like to encourage families with autistic children to never giving up their hope. With good intentions and always be conscientious, they believe everyone can pursue a beautiful dream and happy life, just like they are!

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