The world is inhabited by exceptional people, geniuses who stand out for their abilities and who have earned our admiration for making a difference. Within the autistic spectrum, there are kids with unique conditions and qualities who never cease to surprise us. Meet the children with autism who are excelling and are true examples of overcoming.
Rafael’s story: the polyglot child with autism spectrum disorder
A story of overcoming that is worth knowing, Rafael is a Brazilian boy who since 2 years of age presented problems to articulate words clearly. He was born with autism and difficulties in learning to speak. Even his relatives came to believe that he suffered from hearing problems.
Today, at just 7 years old, he can communicate in 9 languages: an exceptional case that serves as an example to millions of people. He learned from a tablet, according to his mother, Juliana Lancer Mayer. His story caused worldwide shock and controversy.
From the moment the neuro pediatrician diagnosed him with Asperger’s at the age of 2, his mother sought other opinions from specialists, but they all agreed on the same diagnosis. Many doubts invaded her about what they could do to improve socialization and the possibility of communicating better. In this regard, Juliana Lancer Mayer commented to BBC News Brasil:
“My other children developed rapidly, but it took time for Rafael even to learn how to sit when he was little. Until 2 years old, he did not interact, did not look in the eyes and seemed to be deaf. We did tests that showed that he had no hearing problems.”
The kid received therapy to be able to communicate better despite the typical limitations of autistic disorder, but the methods failed to solve anything. Some people recommended the child’s mother to give him a tablet to improve some skills. At first, the family was reluctant but then decided to do so.
“I was worried because, suddenly, he (Rafael) began to speak as if he spoke the language fluently, without having received classes or leaving the country,” said the mother.
The device changed Rafael’s life. He focused on its contents until he started learning languages. The first one he learned was English.
Greta Thunberg: the pro-environment girl
These days everyone talks about Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old Swedish who has been an icon of awareness about climate change since 2017.
This teenage prodigy was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for her perseverance in the fight for the environment. If she won this award, she would become the youngest person to receive it, overtaking Malala Yousafzai, winner of the prize at just 17 years old in 2014.
Greta was diagnosed with Asperger’s in 2015. In relation to this disorder, the Aspergers Argentina Association clarifies:
“It is a condition of neurodevelopment, a variation of development that accompanies people throughout their lives. It influences the way they give meaning to the world, processes information and relates to others.”
“Aspergers was included among the Generalized Developmental Disorders (TGD) and is currently incorporated into the Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD).”
This condition and its difficulties in socialization were not an obstacle for the adolescent activist to work to raise awareness about the damage caused to the environment. On August 31, she added the following text to her Twitter account:
“When those who hate persecute you because of your appearance and differences, it means that they have lost their way… And then you know that you are winning! I have Aspergers and that means that sometimes I am a little different from the norm. And, in certain circumstances, being different is a superpower.”
The passion that moves her for the cause of saving the planet has aroused the admiration and respect of many, even revolutionized the networks when a #AspiePower hashtag went viral, that summoned all those who have the disorder to discover their talent.
The active participation of Greta in the Summit for Climate Action at the UN attracted the attention of the world. It was a very eloquent and passionate speech that greatly moved the attendees.
“They have stolen my dreams and my childhood with their hollow words, and yet I am one of the luckiest. People are suffering, people are dying, entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are at the beginning of a mass extinction, and the only thing you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare they?”
Everyone in the UN auditorium directed their applause at the defiant young woman, but Greta, with a content cry, long blonde braid and pink cheeks proved that difference can also be a super-power. The activist has become a symbol of the fight against climate change.
Her speech was directed vehemently towards the most powerful political leaders in the world and focused on the request for concrete actions to protect the planet.
“My message is that we will be watching them. All this is wrong. I shouldn’t be up here. I should be back at school, across the ocean. How dare they?”
The most important thing is that his message was seen and supported by millions of people around the world, overcoming the limitations of her disorder -which reduces the ability to interact with others-, a worthy example of perseverance and desire to overcome.
Federico García Villegas: Pablo’s voice in Nat Geo
His story is unprecedented. Federico García Villegas is a 10-year-old Colombian boy who dared to write a story to explain to his classmates and friends what his condition is like. He also created a foundation for those children who, like him, have Asperger’s syndrome.
It all started when he accidentally broke a vase at the house of one of his friends. From there, he came up with the idea of writing a story and selling it to get money to be able to replace the vase.
According to his mother, Andrea Villegas, the story told of a dinosaur that other animals did not understand, nor wanted. Through the story, Federico was able to express for the first time how he felt in front of others.
After opening up to his parents and exposing all his feelings in an unusual way, Federico said he did not want other children to go through the same thing he did, and proposed to sell his stories and create a foundation.
This is how the idea of the Federico García Villegas Foundation came about in 2017 with the slogan “I am different, I am like you” with the mission of providing support, attention, and guidance to families with children with autism, and achieving true academic and social inclusion.
The foundation is financed by the stories of Federico. The first one is called Crylo, of which 500 copies were printed that were already sold out of the showcases.
Federico was diagnosed from a very young age. At the age of 8, he was encouraged to record a YouTube video in which he explained in general everything about his condition, what it was like to live with the syndrome and why he did not feel different. In a short time, the video received thousands of visits.
He has been a victim of bullying from his classmates for suffering from Asperger’s Syndrome. For this reason, he was motivated to transmit it in a video.
The video popularized by the boy caught the attention of the Nat Geo Kids’ producers, who contacted him to propose participation in a television series called Pablo. He was selected to interpret the voice of the protagonist, Pablo, a 5-year-old boy with autism, very ingenious and artistic, whose drawings come to life in the “art world.”
The script was written by talented people with Asperger’s who incorporated original and funny stories about their own everyday experiences.
“I am very happy to give a voice to Pablo! If children see Pablo, they will know what the world of children with autism is like, and then they can learn to have more patience and be a more inclusive generation,” Federico told the local newspaper The Nation.
His participation in the series allows a beautiful message to be transmitted to the world.
Adhara Pérez Sánchez: the genius girl who wants to save the world
A neurotypical kid at the age of 3 is learning to speak or walk, but when this Mexican girl reached that age, he already assembled 100-piece puzzles, began to read and study algebra. She was diagnosed with the Asperger’s but with an IQ of 162, when the average score is 90, which makes her a gifted kid.
She is currently 8 years old and dreams of becoming an astronaut and belonging to NASA, “I want to save the earth,” she said. The CNCI University Cumbres campus awarded her a scholarship to complete her studies, including an English course for his future aspirations.
The people tell her “the genius girl” because of her IQ and because she is about to begin her career in Industrial Systems Engineering in Mexico City, and then study Astrophysics in Arizona.
At a conference offered at the CNCI University, Adhara spoke about her diagnosis with ASD and also why he was listed as a genius girl.
“My dream is to be an astronaut. I have an IQ of 162 and I want to be an astronaut to save the earth,” says this scientist, who is a Stephen Hawking’s little fan and his theory of parallel universes.
“I think that one day a very massive black hole can end this planet earth and what the human being has to do? Exploring other planets that have water and build ships seeing it from another point and if we imagine that we enter a hole black and we survive applies the laws of Einstein space time and parallel universes,” said Pérez Sánchez.
The academic institute promised to provide support so she can go to the University of Arizona to finish astrophysics studies, in addition to monetary support for her family nucleus.
If this dream came true, the girl would be the youngest physicist in Mexico and the world. Recently, Adhara was invited to an event at NASA because of her exceptional abilities.
Her high intellectual level and her special condition did not allow him to adapt to the traditional school, so the parents decided that she would study at home. In a short time, she finished elementary and secondary school; then, she was able to pass high-school with a single exam.
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