Diagnosed with autism when he was a child, Tolga Kulaç, 25, is finally able to socialize thanks to the sema course he has been attending where he practices the whirling exercises of the dervishes.
Once living in the province of Kars, the eldest child of the Kulaç family, Tolga Kulaç was diagnosed with autism at the age of four. From then on, his parents have brought him to Ankara from Kars each month since the age of seven for better health services and treatment, which have continued for 13 years. After one of the children of Kulaç family was accepted to the School of Medicine at Gazi University, the family moved to Ankara in 2012.
He then attended the sema course initiated by the Sincan Municipality, and he learned the philosophy of Rumi and the example of divine love. He was introduced to music and handcrafts through his teacher Ülkü Bayram and clung onto life with the support of his family.
Kulaç's mother, Cemile Kulaç, 51, told Anadolu Agency (AA) about the treatment and education her child has received. She said that her son's condition has been a test for them and that she could not understand how her other children grew up while she was dealing with her son.
"Tolga could not communicate with anyone; he could not touch anything. After we arrived in Ankara, we learned that the municipality was offering a service for the disabled. Thanks to his teacher Ülkü, he learned handcrafts and how to sew beads onto leather. I was shocked when I learned of his accomplishment. I even asked, 'Does Tolga have a needle in his hand?' He finished the work with leather with beads within one-and-a-half months. I wasn't this happy even when my other son was accepted into the school of medicine," his mother said.
As an advocate for families with disabled children who advises that parents do not make their children lead the life of a prisoner, Kulaç said that her son's social integration was enhanced when he joined the sema course and that he even began waking up for the early-morning sahur during Ramadan.
Bayram, the teacher who serves at the Sincan Municipality, said that Kulaç joined the courses three years ago and in the first year he didn't interact with anyone. When he first started, he used to jump up and down for no reason in class. When the teacher noticed this, he started implementing a different education method - when Kulaç jumped, Bayram would jump so that he would not feel different. After a while, the student's behavior began to change.
Bayram said that the Wings of Hope foundation, established in 2014, serves children with autism, Down syndrome and various physical and mental disabilities. "The fact that Tolga joined the sema team has enhanced his social integration. He now has a mission and we have made him the flute player of the group, which he likes and which has allowed him to gain self-confidence because he now has a special place in the group," Bayram said.