Ayden Harbin, left, with Dr. William Simmons, president of Gateway Medical Society, which sponsors the Journey to Medicine program for African-American males. (Photo by Jacqueline McDonald)

Ayden Harbin, left, with Dr. William Simmons, president of Gateway Medical Society, which sponsors the Journey to Medicine program for African-American males. (Photo by Jacqueline McDonald)

When Ayden Harbin was 4 years old, he was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.

Autism spectrum disorder, also known as ASD, is a group of complex developmental disorders in brain development that can impair a person’s ability to communicate and interact. It often stops families in their tracks and many times, without resources, caregivers accept that their child is not going to be able to function within mainstream society. With that acceptance, depending upon the severity of the condition, they also come to grips with the reality that the child could very well be relegated to a mediocre lifestyle at best.

Ayden’s family did just the opposite. They committed from Day One to seek resources and embrace every positive possibility for their son in order to ensure his chance for success in life. Thus, by the time he was in kindergarten at Pittsburgh Liberty K-5, his mother, Pam Harbin, began petitioning the school to have him tested for the gifted program. By first grade, Ayden was tested and indeed found to be gifted. Subsequently, seven years ago, he began attending the Pittsburgh Gifted Center at Greenway in the West End, where science is his specialty.

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