Prem Sankar, diagnosed with ASD at the age of three, did his schooling from Sri Sivananda Balalaya, Corporation Middle School and the Dolphin Special School in Tiruchy. Despite him showing a keen interest in computers since the age of 11, his parents were hesitant to let him use it much fearing a worsening of his speech impairment. However, Sankar’s keen knowledge of computer games and puzzles, his typing skills with zero error, changed his parents’ minds and he underwent data entry when he was 15.
“We put him in an inclusive school under the supervision of Sri Sivananda Balalaya and offered him training in skating, swimming and occupational therapy,” said his mother Mangai Alwar, an ex-employee of a PSU. Mangai said the family moved to Chennai in order to address his communication difficulties and here they met Manu Sekar, the founder of HashHackCode (HHC) at a job fair workshop. “We took a risk by admitting him in the HHC programme. And of course, he was the first such student to register and given the code name “User01 in HHC. Prem enjoyed his coding classes right from the very beginning,” Mangai said.
Thereafter, Sankar’s parents and mentor Manu Sekar noticed Prem’s keen interest in creative coding. Subsequently, he designed three websites. “He designed a website for the ‘arangetram’ of my friend’s
daughter in Chennai and they are his first clients,” Mangai said and added that Prem had launched his own website codewithprem.in as a freelancer which would offer services through small businesses and
“We gave him assignments to code actual examples such as classified ads in a newspaper with which he had to guess the HTML structure and CSS codes and Sankar excelled in them. Later, we asked him to create small HTML pages and he thoroughly enjoyed working on it, enabling us to identify his potential which would pave way towards a bright career,” Sekar told DT Next.