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Following a child along in their development is always an adventure. Although things can get complicated along the way, there’s a lesson in every step. Rafael was diagnosed with severe autism when he was little, and although his parents were scared at the beginning, they knew they had to support their son. All they had left to do was research and find out about the best methods to use to raise him. With time, he was able to surprise everyone with his exceptional learning abilities, because, at only 7, he already speaks more than 9 languages and is also learning how to compose songs by playing musical instruments. At the end of the article, you’ll find a bonus where you can witness his skills.
How does she do it? Juli Lanser Mayer, Rafael’s mother, shared her son’s story with Bright Side. The journey of a highly intelligent child who showed us that everyone can be hiding something special and shouldn’t be underestimated or judged by their appearance.
An unexpected diagnosis
Rafael was 2 years and 8 months old, and he still hadn’t spoken one word. This is uncommon, and it deeply worried his parents, so they followed a friend’s advice and visited a neuropediatrician. At their first appointment, the doctor’s diagnosis completely changed their lives: Rafael suffered from severe nonverbal autism. But they didn’t want to resign to that diagnosis, so they consulted 3 other doctors.
The diagnosis remained the same. At first, it was complicated because his parents didn’t exactly know what autism was. They were afraid that they would discover that the condition didn’t have a cure, but kept calm because they had one thing clear in their minds: The most important thing was to support their son and help him find the best version of himself while they learned how to deal with the situation.
A fascination with languages
Rafael began to attend therapy, but even after several months, he wasn’t showing any progress. Confronted with this problem, doctors advised his parents to allow him to use a tablet to see if he was interested in anything. It was a challenge, and they were afraid of the impact it could have on their son, but they accepted the suggestion, and Rafael began to interact with technology.
While browsing YouTube, the boy watched some videos in Portuguese to continue his therapy. One day, YouTube’s autoplay played a song in English. “It was at that moment that I saw Rafael’s eyes shine because of what he was watching and listening to. It was then I knew something had changed,” shared his mother. Since that day, the child began his fascination with learning other languages. The best part is that he has an incredible memory, so he can code other languages very rapidly and has the talent to pronounce them flawlessly.
He speaks 9 languages and counting.
Rafael speaks more than 9 languages, including English, Spanish, Japanese, Russian, French, and German. To study them, he only focuses on one, and once he’s learned it, he begins to study a new one. Most of his spontaneous communication and jokes are in English because this language is his favorite and makes him feel comfortable. Although Rafael and his family live in Brazil and speak Portuguese, it’s hard for Rafael to pronounce it. Many believe that he’s American and is learning the language.
Rafael doesn’t like German very much. It’s very common to hear it where he lives. Even his mother knows a little German because she studied it when she was young, but Rafael doesn’t like for it to be spoken and gets angry whenever someone uses it. However, one day, Juli discovered him playing in his room and… guess what! The boy was speaking in German. “So, can you speak it in secret?” She asked. He didn’t know how to react, so he got angry and closed the door. When he speaks in Spanish, he laughs because he finds it very comical and has fun with the pronunciation. Regarding English, if he hears someone make a mistake while speaking, he simply ignores it, unless that person is close to him, then Rafael tries to help them improve their pronunciation.
He’s also passionate about music and instruments.
Rafael’s skills go beyond languages. He also loves musical instruments. He enjoys the piano, keyboard, xylophone, and drums. He recently started music classes, and, after just 3 sessions, he has already learned things that other people can only master in 3 or 4 years. He’s now determined to compose songs and sometimes plays music in city parks. One of his favorite artists is the singer Raffa Torres. Thanks to the boy’s enthusiasm, the singer invited him to participate in the filming of a DVD, and the meeting turned out to be very exciting and meaningful.
“To see the world differently…”
His mother believes that having a child with autism means always learning how to see things differently, from all perspectives. It’s about examining each day to complete the puzzle in the most harmonious and healthy way possible. She thinks that you can’t worry too much about the future, in order to be able to focus on the present. Thanks to Rafael, his parents are now more conscious, strong, loving, and became believers in the potential that lives in each person.
“You must believe in your children’s potential, whatever their situation. Study hard to support them and trust your intuition. If your child has autism, they don’t have to be a burden, but can be a possibility to learn constantly. If you are happy, kind, and caring, you can transfer these feelings to your child, and they’ll become infected with your joy and will be confident to grow into the best version of themselves. Love heals from the inside out. They’re all different in a genuine and liberating way,” Juli remarked.
A future full with expectations
Although Rafael has never mentioned what he would like to be as a grown-up, his mother believes that, perhaps, he could become a translator, to take advantage of his exceptional language skills. On the other hand, his taste for technology, music, and video games could lead him to work on something related to his favorite hobbies. “I don’t know how it’ll be, I live and enjoy each day in the best way I can, being present and accompanying him in his growth and independence. Whatever it is, I’ll be by his side no matter how or where life takes us,” Juli stated.
His parents don’t want him to feel pressured by all the admiring looks and expectations; they simply want his happiness and for him to continue doing what he likes. They’ll be there to help and protect him during his development. Fortunately, Rafael has an incredible family, including 3 brothers who also encourage him at every step. His mom is planning on publishing a book in 2020 to share her son’s story with the world. For now, we can follow Rafael’s achievements on her Instagram account, where she posts the most special moments she shares next to him.
What do you think of this story and of Rafael’s skills? What message would you send to him? Tell us in the comments!
Preview photo credit Juli Lanser Mayer / Instagram