Whiz kid - 6-y-o special-needs child taught himself to count to 100 at age one
But for his eyes, one of which is noticeably smaller than the other, one would not immediately know that six-year-old Aiden has five special-needs conditions.
His mother, Tameisha Drysdale, in an interview with the JIS, said her son taught himself to count from one to 100 at the age of one. He speaks Spanish and is already reading at the grade-three level.
Aiden has been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder; receptive and expressive language disorder; cognitive bilateral microphthalmia, which means his eyes are not properly developed; vision impairment; and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
Drysdale said her son has always been high-functioning.
She said she first noticed his excellence at spelling and using numbers at age one.
"We'd given him a tablet [because] we realised that was [how] we could kind of get him to calm down a little bit, but he basically taught himself. We realised he started doing numbers from one to 20 in Spanish, and then he started saying the different colours in Spanish," she shared.
"So, from an early stage we realised that he was able to read well, he's able to put words together and when he does, you're not seeing a limitation, challenge or disability. You're seeing this awesome individual who happens to be my son," she gushed.
While Aiden's eye conditions were detected shortly after birth, his autism diagnosis came after a casual visit to his paediatrician to treat a cold, and the doctor noticed that he was not responding to social cues like other children his age.
"At first, I was really in denial because we already had his eye conditions dealing with...we didn't need to complicate this any more," Drysdale said.
Before the diagnosis, she said that his only visible disability was the poor development of his eyes, which did not immediately open at birth.
"We were told at one point that he was blind and that he wouldn't see. We visited many different specialists, and everybody gave us a different [prognosis] where the eyes were concerned. Some said that he wouldn't see, or that he would only see outlines, and all kinds of things," she related.
The eye specialist, which he visits annually, has assured that Aiden's eye condition will not worsen as he gets older, but is unlikely to improve. Currently, he can read words that are near or in extra-large print.
The mother said that he was recommended for language, speech and behavioural therapy, and has to be enrolled in a school that supports children with special needs.
"The journey has been difficult. I can't say that it has been easy. It really has been a roller-coaster ride," she shared.
Drysdale is optimistic about her son's future, and while she said the ultimate decision for a career would be his, the intention is to expose him to studies in the science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics field, for which he shows an affinity.
She said that she is grateful for the community of support her family provides for her son, and is encouraging other mothers to not isolate themselves when faced with the challenges of parenting a child with special needs.