8-year-old Logan Doyle, from County Tyrone, Northern Ireland, is a wonderful and intelligent little boy with many talents. His autism and hyperlexia have helped shape who he is today, and, in many ways, that’s a positive thing. His first word, when he was a little over two years old, was “triangle.” He learned to read and write at the age of two and a half, and he began teaching himself Japanese when he was five. He loves making charts. He’s also a very optimistic person who chooses to look at the world from a positive perspective.
“Now he’s very aware,” says Logan’s mother, Clodagh Doyle. “He says, ‘Some people call autism a disability, but I’m going to make it an ability for me.'”
However, things haven’t always been easy for Logan. He was diagnosed with autism at the age of three. Although he excelled at reading and writing, he struggled with verbal communication as a young child and had a hard time making his parents understand what he needed and wanted to say.
“That would bring on frustrations,” Clodagh recalls. “His biggest issue was meltdowns. He would have had about three or four every day. It was like he would turn into a completely different child.”
Logan also used to dislike Christmas. Along with the holiday season always came loud noises, social gatherings, and unfamiliar sensory input that he just couldn’t wrap his mind around. Added to that was the fact that Santa tended to bring him things he didn’t actually want each year.
“It used to completely freak him out,” says Clodagh. “I have a wee video of him saying he didn’t want anything from Santa. It was heartbreaking.”
Logan’s sensory sensitivities and the differences in how his brain works meant he didn’t always like to play with the same toys that other children did. So he often wasn’t excited when those were the toys that showed up under the Christmas tree.
“The first few years, Santa was bringing the wrong things, because we didn’t know any different,” says Clodagh. “Logan didn’t play with toys—he spun the wheels on the prams. He liked light, music, bubbles.”
Clodagh, along with Logan’s dad, Barry, and his brothers, six-year-old Luke and four-year-old Jayce, have spent the last few years learning about autism and Logan’s unique needs and attributes. The increased understanding from those around him and the tools he’s acquired to help with his meltdowns have helped Logan learn to enjoy things like Christmas a little more these days.
With Clodagh’s help, Logan has even turned some of his struggles into an inspiration that motivates him to help other kids with neurological differences like his. Now he fundraises for Cash for Kids, a charity that helps youths who are struggling with poverty, abuse, neglect, life-limiting illness, or special needs. With the money he raises, Clodagh buys special Christmas gifts for kids who may need sensory toys or toys outside of the typical age range.
“Sometimes Santa’s not too sure of what to get for children with additional needs,” says Clodagh, “So I sort of wanted to start a trend and hope that other people will follow suit and maybe fundraise for those sorts of gifts as well.”
Last year, Logan’s fundraiser made £2,000. This year, Cash for Kids has asked if he would do it again, and the family has agreed. It’s looking like the fundraiser will be even more successful this time around. You can visit Logan’s GoFundMe page to contribute.Whizzco