AN autistic teenager who was told he would “not be able to learn anything academic” has achieved a distinction-grade music qualification.

Tim Wagter from Felpham was diagnosed with autism at an early age.

The 17-year-old was non-verbal until the age of three, and when he was eight his teachers told Tim’s parents, Sally and Erik, the school was unable to teach him anything “academic”.

But Tim has now achieved the equivalent of eight GCSEs, including a distinction for a music diploma, and has become a talented pianist.

Sally started writing diaries when Tim was a baby and has used them to put together a book charting her son’s remarkable development.

Miracle In Slow Motion follows Sally’s journey from being confronted with Tim’s diagnosis to the “amazing breakthroughs” which have led him to be the person he is today.

Sally said: “Miracle In Slow Motion is a story which goes from the depths of despair to a miraculous outcome.

“I write about how at the age of two Tim was having daily meltdowns, screaming and running away from people and unable to communicate his needs, to how at the age of eight his school said we should prepare for a future of assisted working.

“However today, at the age of 17, he is a socially confident and academically capable young man with a number of qualifications who is fully able to articulate his thoughts and feelings.”

Sally described Tim’s talent for playing the piano as a “miracle” as when he was little boy he would cry whenever he heard music playing.

She said: “Now he can play the whole of the Cats musical faultlessly by ear, which lasts for an hour and a half.

“We know that autistic children are all different and respond in different ways and some would have had a different outcome.

“Tim has overcome so many difficulties and gone from being non-verbal and unco-operative to singing and entertaining people in public. “It’s wonderful to see and he’s exceeded our wildest dreams.”

The book also details the support Tim and his family received from Caudwell Children and how the charity provided access to a range of interventions to suit Tim.

Sally said: “With their support we began to understand what Tim was going through and how his processing difficulties made it hard for him to be a part of things.

“As a result of their help we began to celebrate everything that he could do and we made him feel accepted.

“We tried to see life through his eyes and we used what motivated him to help him access learning.

“I don’t believe Tim would have been anywhere near this level without the charity’s help and we can’t thank them enough.”

Sally hopes to find a publisher for Miracle In Slow Motion so that other families with autistic children can learn from Tim’s inspirational story.

She said: “I’d love to hear from any publishers who would be interested in reading the manuscript or synopsis.

“Ours is a remarkable story and one that parents of autistic children need to know.”