Callum is an identical twin with a special ability. He and his brother were born 10 weeks prematurely and his parents, Cheryl and Ken, say they knew early on that there was something different about Callum. He would watch Play School over and over again, liked to line up his toys and cars, and became very upset if they ever went down a path other than the one he was used to. At the age of three he was diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum, which Cheryl and Ken say was actually very exciting, as it meant that they had something to work with and could start to move forward.
Callum started with Aspect’s Building Blocks program at the age of three. Now nearly 14, over the years he has got to know more of the Aspect staff, including Tom Tutton, the Positive Behaviour Support Manager, who has been working with him since he was five. Callum’s twin, Dylan, was also diagnosed with autism just last year.
So what is Callum’s special talent? Callum has amazing visual recognition and processing skills. Since a very young age, Callum has been exceptionally good at puzzles. Beginning with preschool blocks, progressing to tray puzzles (which his family used to mix up, using more than one at a time to make it more challenging), to now 500 and even 1,000 piece puzzles. When we gave Callum the 500 piece puzzle of the tree in fields of blossom that you see on the video, he completed it in just one hour and 15 minutes, even though he had never seen it before. In the days prior to the shoot, our creative director and his family spent three nights on it before giving up!
While this is remarkable in itself, it is just one indication of Callum’s powerful visual processing. At a school work experience opportunity recently, the Café manager demonstrated how to fold and construct a coffee cup tray in seven simple steps, as he had instructed his staff to do. Callum did it in five. Just think of the possibilities of such a skill.