Yamaha sorry for axing lesson over boy's autism

Yamaha has apologised after a parent complained that a flute instructor at the Yamaha Contempo Music School cancelled his son's lesson because of the child's autism.

In a Facebook post on Monday, Mr Ivan Lim described how his 12-year-old son Alex was turned away from his flute lesson at the school at Plaza Singapura mall.

Alex, who is Mr Lim's only child, had been enrolled for two lessons at the school. The first one went fine, Mr Lim, who is a musician, told The Straits Times.

However, when he dropped by the school last Friday, he found Alex sitting outside with their maid, looking "shattered".

"I learnt that the teacher had said he did not want to teach Alex because of the boy's autism," wrote Mr Lim, 51, on Facebook.

A spokesman for Yamaha Contempo Music School told ST yesterday that it has investigated the incident and sought Mr Lim's forgiveness.

"We sincerely apologise for all that we and the teacher did, and all that Mr Lim and the family went through," said the school. "No child, parent or grandparent should be made to go through what happened."

The school said the staff at the reception was not aware of Alex's condition at the point of enrolment.

Alex will continue his flute lessons elsewhere, and Mr Lim said the school has offered a full refund.

It is not the first time Alex has taken music lessons. He was previously given lessons by composer Zaidi Sabtu-Ramli, a friend of Mr Lim's.

Mr Zaidi, 37, said teaching Alex is different from teaching others as "you have to come up with a different approach... his attention span is very short".

"We thought Yamaha was a good brand," said Mr Lim. "But I believe this is an isolated incident. I was very unhappy with the way they managed it. I hope they will learn from this episode."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 16, 2017, with the headline 'Yamaha sorry for axing lesson over boy's autism'. Print Edition | Subscribe