Play any song once for Hawthorne's Anthony Puluse and he'll give you every single beat correctly on the drums.
It's a talent the 15-year-old's parent discovered when he was 2 -- not long after he was diagnosed with autism -- when they noticed he was constantly tapping his fingers on his own body.
Anthony's teachers suspected it was a behavior problem that needed to be tamed, but his parents had a hunch it was something more -- an incredible gift.
A photographic musical memory.
On Sunday, Anthony shined on stage at the Hawthorne Bandshell's Fight 4 Autism III, playing songs by Green Day, Metallica, Led Zeppelin and more (video above) with the Hawthorne Community Band.
The revelation that Anthony had the gift of music is what his mother said helped her cope with his shocking diagnosis years ago.
"When he was diagnosed we were crushed," she said, teary-eyed. "You wait all your life to have your baby... you have all these plans. You go to college and study to make a successful life, and then it all comes crumbling down in one diagnosis.
"Once we started to see that Anthony could play the drums, we started to have some hope."
Anthony was hitting every milestone until he was around 18 months old. Then, he started regressing. He lost language and was no longer making eye contact.
His parents were in a panic.
"I went through a large depression when I got the diagnosis," said Puluse, who at the time was pregnant with her daughter. "We started to worry about what would happen with to our second child."
But then, one day, the Puluses noticed their son's finger-tapping antics. After a few months, they realized he was mimicking the beat of whatever song was on the radio.
"He was playing Jimi Hendrix on his body and you could hear it," Puluse said. "Every second would be accounted for just after hearing it one time."
At 3 years old, Anthony got his first drum kit -- which confirmed his parents' theory. He would hear a song in the car and then go back inside and play it perfectly on the drums.
From then on, his parents made sure to surround him with music.
"When Anthony was around 4, he was playing games like Guitar Hero and Rock Legend," Puluse said. "One day we got in the car and he brought a toy organ, one from a birthday party with only a few keys. He started playing Duran Duran, one of the songs from Guitar Hero.
"My husband and I looked at each other like, 'He plays the piano, too.' He knew the whole tune. It was just amazing."
Five years later, Puluse enrolled her son in Wayne's School of Rock, where she says the teachers especially appreciated his gift. They would put on a song and Anthony would play them back instantly. Anthony now studies at the School of Rock in Montclair and plays in the School of Rock House Band -- a competitive opportunity -- which tours all year long.
"In some ways, the autism gives Anthony an edge over a typical person because he has a musical photographic memory in his head," his mom said. "So when a really good musician questions counts, Anthony instantly knows what they are. It's whether he can get it out in a clear language."
Anthony -- who is also in the Hawthorne High School Marching Band -- also knows where each instrument should be in every song. He knows all the guitar, bass and keyboard melodies.
His mom doesn't think he knows quite how good he is, but people tell him all the time and he reverberates the compliments.
"He'll tell you he's a great musician but he's repeating what everybody tell him," Puluse said. "that's something a lot of autistic people do.
"It's amazing to me every day."
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