GIFTED songwriter Calvin Glen has learning difficulties but is celebrating after making the finals of a music competition aged just 12.

Even more remarkably, the Oakdale musician, who has Asperger’s Syndrome, an autistic spectrum disorder, has only been playing his guitar for a year – and is self-taught.

He will face off against others more than twice his age in the final stages of the Open Mic competition, which will take place in Fareham, near Portsmouth, on October 6.

Mum Marie, who becomes “quite emotional” when listening to her son perform, said: “I’m so proud of him.

“Two years ago, we were told he wouldn’t be able to stay in mainstream education because of his autism. I made the decision to home-school him for two years, but now, he’s in a different mainstream school and achieving really well, and he’s doing particularly brilliantly at music. It’s been a total turn-around.”

Calvin, who now attends St Edward’s in Poole, has always been a performer, enjoying ballet and jazz dance classes as a child.

Marie said: “He took up the guitar a year ago, and he just took to it.

“He writes his own songs, which is just amazing, and in the competition he will perform an original.”

And it has been a busy summer for the schoolboy, who has performed his compositions at county events including Mudeford Arts Festival.

“It’s wonderful that he has the chance to do something he really loves,” said Marie.

“Calvin has a really eclectic taste in music. He likes everything from Mozart to Black Sabbath via Skunk Anansie and the Rolling Stones. It’s his passion.”

Although Calvin has weekly piano lessons, he has taught himself the guitar using tutorials online.

“I tend to cry when I hear him play, especially when it’s one of his own songs,” said Marie.

“He has just done so well.”

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