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‘I am different.’ How a Trumbull boy and his mom are changing curious stares into smiles

12-year-old Aydin Artis was born with spina bifida and uses a wheelchair to navigate life.

Nicole Alarcon Soares and Sara Gibek

Jun 15, 2024, 11:28 AM

Updated 31 days ago


A Trumbull boy and his mother are turning people's curious stares into heartwarming smiles.
Michelle Artis wrote “I’m Different” inspired by her son Aydin’s life navigating the world with spina bifida.
The 12-year-old boy doesn't realize it yet, but his charm, confidence, and determination inspire everyone he meets.
It all began with rhymes nudging Michelle to write them down, and then an idea came.
“Rhymes started coming to me, and I was like, I have to write this down.”
The book lived in the notes section of Michelle’s iPhone for about a year and a half.
The story she wrote created a sacred bonding moment between them, and with Aydin’s blessing, they decided to share it with the rest of the world.
“I wanted the book to showcase all children because I felt like it was really important for children to see that they can be friends with a child that's, you know, I would say different in quotations ‘different’ from them,” Michelle said.
“Whenever I go to a public place, people would stare,” Aydin said.
“I would try to teach Aydin that it's not because they're staring at him for any wrong reason, it's because they're curious,” said Michelle.
For Aydin, it’s a regular occurrence.
“Most likely, I'll just roll away. Ignore them most of the time,” said Aydin.
And once people see Aydin beyond his wheelchair, they get to know his bright smile and his competitive love for basketball.
“We just noticed that when Aydin was younger, he wasn’t putting his head up or sitting up by himself,” said Michelle.
That's when the family found out about his diagnosis.
Spina bifida is a condition that occurs when the spine and spinal cord don't form properly.
“The biggest fear was just allowing Aydin to live a normal life,” said Michelle.
But Aydin’s ambitious nature did not let that stop him.
“It's not hard, but it's not easy. It’s medium, some stuff I could do and some stuff I must, like, go take a whole other way,” he said.
“Instead of feeling bad about it, we just turned it into something beautiful, which is what Aydin is to us,” said Michelle.
Click here to read more about Aydin and Michelle’s story and purchase the book.

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