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Child with Visual Impairments Discovers Hidden Talents

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WESLACO – A Rio Grande Valley teen, who is also visually impaired, continues to discover hidden talents along the way.

Nathan Rios, 14, of Mercedes, was born at just 26 weeks.

“What they did tell us was that he wasn’t going to be able to walk, he wasn’t going to be able to talk,” said his mother, Ruth.

Ruth said doctors needed to perform two different surgeries on Nathan. At just two and a half months old, he lost his eyesight

“Because of that, he was going to have his eye surgery. It got pushed back so he ended up losing his vision,” she said. “It felt like we lost a part of our heart. It’s like our heart broke, like we lost something and we didn’t lose anything. He’s the one that lost it.”

Ruth said she didn’t know how she and her husband would be able to show Nathan all the things he couldn’t see.

“One of the things is, how am I going to explain to him what a rainbow is?” questioned the mother.

Ruth said she and her husband began teaching him what they could. They showed him he could do anything and let him know there’s always a way.

Ruth said her son’s teachers even started to doubt him. So, she took matters into her own hands.

“They did start telling him that he couldn’t do things. So you, as a parent, were bringing him up and trying to tell him, ‘You can do this. You can do that… Anything is possible, you just have to try. You just can’t give up,” she said.

The mother said she knew Nathan needed a change, so she began homeschooling him. She said she started to let him branch out and experience life.

Nathan is currently a featured artist at a gallery in Harlingen.

“What do I like most about painting? It makes me feel good,” he said.

If he’s not painting, Nathan is practicing one of his favorite sports, Tae Kwon Do. He began going to Song’s White Tiger almost two years ago.

Nathan’s instructor, Lisanye Sanchez, told CHANNEL 5 NEWS she was scared when he started attending class. She said she wasn’t sure how she would teach him a sport centered on precision and certainty.

However, Sanchez said she believed in him.

“He couldn’t hit. He had no force. Now, Nathan is a child who does everything. He doesn’t limit himself to one activity,” she said.

Sanchez said she saw a great improvement in him over the last year. She said Tae Kwon Do was the gateway for Nathan to explore.

“So, a lot of it is just therapy, things he wasn’t able to do before, things we take for granted,” said Ruth.

The mother said Nathan would hardly leave the house. Now, he’s an active runner and is participating in races across the Valley. He’s also taking swimming lessons and gearing up for soccer this summer.

“All these organizations, they have something that brings out what he needs, little things, like I said, we take for granted,” she said.

Ruth said there’s nothing her son can’t do. She said Nathan’s accomplished everything he’s set his mind to. 

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