Blue Hands

The second-place winner of “Children, Hopes and Dreams”, the first UNICEF Iran and Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance joint photography contest

Abdollah Heidari, Photojournalist
03 August 2020

Music lessons to individuals with behavioral disorders like autism and Down syndrome is effective on their improvement process. Music helps them to coordinate their emotions and feelings, hearing sensation and sensory-motor skills, social behavior and concentration. Some of them have been learning music since the age of four and with years of continuous training and diligence they are now able to play such musical pieces as Chopin: Waltz No. 16 , Mozart: Turkish March, and Francis Lai: Love Story.

Ms. Aylin Agahi has been teaching piano to these children since 17 years ago. "Their learning ability is so different with each other and sometimes it takes around 11 years to learn and play a piece of music. One of the girls with sever autism is now able to play piano with closed eyes" she said.

This year she decided to make a new café in North Tehran named Downtism deriving from Down and Autism to support the idea of their occupation and engagement with people in the society.

Her music students are working half time in this Coffee Shop, they play and sing and she pays them for their work. Now more than 35 children with autism and Down syndrome are working there in different hours. 

According to the statistics of World Health Organization, the studies during the past 50 years have shown that the prevalence of autism is increasing worldwide. The statistics in Iran has shown that one in every 100 children is autistic.

Abdollah Heidari
An 6-year-old boy with autism is practicing playing piano with his instructor. He is trying to put his fingers on the piano clavier.
Abdollah Heidari
A teenage girl with severe autism and a boy with Down syndrome. She is playing the piano with closed eyes in the music institute. She has been playing the piano since she was 6 years old and now she can play pieces of Mozart and Chopin.
Abdollah Heidari
The teenage girl with autism is playing the piano while her instructor covers her eyes.
Abdollah Heidari
Three teenage boys with autism are learning to sing collectively in the music studio.
Abdollah Heidari
Three teenage boys with autism are learning to sing collectively in the music studio.
Abdollah Heidari
As the music plays, two girls with Down syndrome and two boys with autism are singing with their instructor at the music institute.
Abdollah Heidari
Two adolescents with autism are preparing a customer’s order at the coffee shop.
Abdollah Heidari
A boy with autism is serving the customers at the coffee shop.
Abdollah Heidari
A girl is singing at the coffee shop while another girl with Down syndrome is playing the piano.

To see the other four winners of “Children, Dreams and Hopes” Photography contest please click here.