Boy, 5, with autism wows TikTok fans with photographic memory

Boy, 5, with autism dubbed ‘Mini Einstein’ wows TikTok fans with his photographic memory and his ability to write in 10 languages and list every country and capital in the world

  • Sebastian Esposito, from Albuquerque, New Mexio, started spelling at 18 months
  • Has hyperlexia – advanced reading age and fascination with numbers or letters 
  • Can recite entire periodice table of elements even though he can’t tie shoelaces
  • Proud parents  say Sebastian, who has autism, is a ‘blessing’ they don’t deserve

A remarkable five-year-old who learned to read before he could walk has wowed millions of people online with his ‘photographic’ memory and ability to write in 10 different languages.

When Sebastian Esposito, from Albuquerque, New Mexio, was 18 months old, he became obsessed with a wooden letter puzzle and began spelling out words like cat and dog – going on to write more than 200 words by the time he was two, as well as learning the entire Russian alphabet.

Sebastian has a skill called hyperlexia, which is when a child has a reading ability well in advance of their age and has a fascination with numbers or letters, and has also been diagnosed with autism.  

Now five and in kindergarten, where his classmates are still learning their ABCs, Sebastian has a reading age of 18, has memorised the Greek, German, Armenian, and Turkish alphabets and can recite the entire periodic table of elements by heart – although he cannot yet tie his shoelaces.

Proud dad Ryan Esposito, 30, a mine worker, who lives with his photographer wife Amanda Esposito, 33, her daughter from a previous relationship, Shyann, 14, and Sebastian, said: ‘Every parent thinks their child is special. But I knew Sebastian was really special.

Sebastian Esposito has taken the internet by storm after revealing his incredible capacity for retaining information

Where his classmates are still learning their ABCs, Sebastian has a reading age of 18 and has memorised the Greek, German, Armenian, and Turkish alphabets 

Sebastian, pictured at the age of three, knows the entire periodic table of elements by heart, while his father admits he couldn’t name ten of them.

‘When he started to spell words backwards, I thought maybe he was an alien. And he picked up all these words so quickly. It was incredible.

‘We think he has a photographic memory. Anything he sees he just stores in his head and never forgets it.’

Agred three, Sebastian was diagnosed with autism, a developmental disability which affects how people communicate and interact with the world.

When Sebastian’s family first started posting videos of him online, it was to raise awareness of his condition and they never expected the short clips to go viral – with some attracting nearly 20 million views. 

The family learn something new everyday from Sebastian who taught them that Kazakhstan is the largest land-locked country in the world

The most popular TikToks, which he posts under the name @litttle.einstein, often show him writing out an entire alphabet or every font on Microsoft Word, as well as listing every country and capital in the world from memory.

Ryan said: ‘He can list every single country in the world and their flag, their capitals and where they are. He can tell a country from the outline.

‘Seeing him flourish like this is so brilliant. We don’t feel like we deserve such a blessing.

Sebastian has a condition called Hyperlexia, which is when a child has a reading ability well in advance of their age and has a fascination with numbers or letters.

Despite not being able to speak with his words, Sebastian will communicate with his family by writing down information

‘We’re just trying to spread awareness about his condition, because even we as a family look at him differently because of the way he is.

‘Sebastian can’t really speak with his words, it’s quite difficult for him. He has all of these thoughts, but he struggles to communicate that way.

‘He has an amazing mind, but he needs to write it down and he can let you know exactly how he is feeling.

‘If he falls down and hurts himself, it’s tough for him to let us know, so it can be really difficult.

When Sebastian Esposito was 18 months old, he became obsessed with a wooden letter puzzle and began spelling out words like cat and dog – going on to write more than 200 words by the time he was two, as well as learning the entire Russian alphabet

He was diagnosed aged three as well as being found to have autism, a developmental disability which affects how people communicate and interact with the world. Two-year-old Sebastian drawing on a wall

‘We want people to know that every kid isn’t the same. But they are all brilliant.

‘Sebastian can’t put on his own shoes, but he can write in Russian – and that’s fine.’

The day of Sebastian’s birth on July 19 2016 rapidly turned into a nightmare when he and his mother were left near death when he became ‘jammed’ in the birth canal.

Medics warned Ryan that the pair would not survive if the baby was not delivered within 30 minutes, reducing him to floods of tears.

Ryan said: ‘I couldn’t believe what was happening. It was the worst day of my life, but also the best as Sebastian was born.

‘The alarms started going off. The nurses even threw me out of the room.

‘I took off crying and then they told me I could cut the cord because he was fine. He was blue when I saw him though, he didn’t even look alive.’

Incredibly, both mother and son survived the dramatic delivery, but Sebastian was placed on a ventilator in the intensive care unit at the Presbyterian Hospital of Albuquerque, where he remained for nine days.

A dramatic delivery saw Sebastian spend nine days in tensive care after turning blue. His parents were told he would have developmental issues

Ryan initially tried to engage in more ‘traditional’ father-son activities with Sebastian, like playing with toys or throwing a ball about, but he realised that his son’s one true passion was reading

Sebastian can now tell his family anything with written words, they even potty trained him this way, as his quick-thinking parents started to use wooden letters to spell out instructions.

Ryan was told his son would probably have significant developmental issues, but the first-time dad was not worried at all, because he just wanted to hold his baby.

He said: ‘When we were told he could have difficulties, we weren’t concerned at all. We just wanted him to be okay.

‘Once we took him home, we were just your average paranoid parents, always making sure he was still breathing.

‘We could tell his cognitive ability was there, so it didn’t matter to us if there was something wrong.

Being Sebastian’s dad has made his parents feel compassionate and more understanding about other people. Pictured Amanda, Ryan, Sebastian, Shyann and Amanda

His parents are trying to spread awareness about his condition, so the world understands what its like to be him

‘I was just glad he and his mother both survived.’

Sebastian only started crawling when he was nine months old and did not begin to walk until he was nearly two.

Despite struggling with speech delay, the perceptive tot was easily potty trained, as his quick-thinking parents started to use wooden letters to spell out instructions.

Ryan said: ‘As he’s speech delayed, these games and puzzles are the way I can communicate with my son.

As he’s speech delayed, games and puzzles are the only way his parents can communicate with him

When people see what he can do his parents worry people think they’re forcing him to learn. But it’s all his own doing.

‘It’s how we potty trained him. We wrote it down. We told him to pee and do a number two in the toilet.

‘We’d write down questions like what he wanted to eat and he would tell us.

‘Now he can tell us anything with written words. That’s how we taught him.’

Ryan initially tried to engage in more ‘traditional’ father-son activities with Sebastian, like playing with toys or throwing a ball about, but he realised that his little boy’s one true passion was reading.

On Sebastian’s first proper Christmas in 2018, he was given a Russian alphabet puzzle and Ryan said he could not have been happier.

‘Learning is his version of playing with toy dinosaurs. He loves spelling challenges, or guessing logos, or writing out fonts. Four-year-old Sebastian drawing letters.

Instead of playing with toys, Ryan engages with Sebastian by giving him spelling challenges, logo guessing games, or font quizzes, where he types out every font on Microsoft Word

He added: ‘His very first Christmas, we got him a Russian alphabet puzzle and he reacted like a kid who’d received his favourite bike.

‘He just loves reading and he becomes completely obsessed with it.’

Instead of playing with toys, Ryan engages with Sebastian by giving him spelling challenges, logo guessing games, or font quizzes, where he types out every font on Microsoft Word.

Armed with the knowledge learned from his hundreds and hundreds of books, Sebastian has yet to back down from a challenge.

Sebastian only started crawling when he was nine months old and did not begin to walk until he was nearly two

All Sebastian really cares about is learning, and will always prioritise new information over his toys

Armed with the knowledge learned from his hundreds and hundreds of books, Sebastian has yet to back down from a challenge

Ryan said: ‘He is so, so passionate. We tried to get him to play with trucks and cars, but it’s not what he wants.

‘All he cares about is learning. He has plenty of toys, but they are just covered in dust.

‘When they see what he can do, I worry people think we’re forcing him to learn. But it’s all his own doing.

‘Learning is his version of playing with toy dinosaurs. He loves spelling challenges, or guessing logos, or writing out fonts.’

And Ryan says Sebastian teaches him something new each day.

THE SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF AUTISM

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people with autism have trouble with social, emotional and communication skills that usually develop before the age of three and last throughout a person’s life. 

Specific signs of autism include: 

  • Reactions to smell, taste, look, feel or sound are unusual
  • Difficulty adapting to changes in routine
  • Unable to repeat or echo what is said to them
  • Difficulty expressing desires using words or motions
  • Unable to discuss their own feelings or other people’s
  • Difficulty with acts of affection like hugging
  • Prefer to be alone and avoid eye contact
  • Difficulty relating to other people
  • Unable to point at objects or look at objects when others point to them

He said: ‘I feel like I’ve been learning so much thanks to Sebastian. He has taught me that Kazakhstan is the largest land-locked country in the world.

‘He knows the entire periodic table of elements by heart, I couldn’t even tell you 10 of them.

‘I can list most African countries in the world now thanks to him. I’ve learned so much just from playing with him.

‘Being Sebastian’s dad has made me more compassionate and more understanding about other people and their kids as well.’

You can follow Sebastian’s brilliant videos on Instagram or TikTok on @litttle.einstein.

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