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Julian English Special Olympics Athlete
There is no arena too big for 12-year-old Special Olympics Maryland athlete Julian English.

This 12-year-old travels the world to overcome his intellectual disability


This 12-year-old travels the world to overcome his intellectual disability

VIDEO: This 12-year-old Special Olympics Maryland athlete learns his ABCs through travel.

On a hot summer day, you'll find Special Olympics Maryland athlete Julian English serving up tennis balls at the Junior Tennis Champions Center in College Park, Maryland. 

Julian English, 12, can do it all when it comes to sports.

His greatest challenge is off the field.

Julian in the hospital.

Julian was born on January 25, 2004, 15 weeks early, at 1 pound 15 ounces. He spent nearly 5 months in the hospital after suffering from mild to severe bleeding on both sides of his brain.

Julian suffered from mild to severe bleeding on both sides of his brain.

He was diagnosed with Periventricular Leukomalacia (PVL) -- a type of brain damage that usually affects infants and can cause long-term affects.

Julian wore hearing aids for the first two years of his life, and while his hearing has improved, he still struggles with every day tasks, such as reading.

Realizing traditional school wasn't enough for Julian, his mother, Natasha Moulton-Levy, wasn't sure if he'd ever be able to learn.

The doctor's visit that changed their lives

What started off as a typical doctor's visit for Julian and Natasha ended in somewhat of a miracle.

Normally when Julian's pediatric doctor would ask him to name his colors, numbers and shapes, he couldn't name one. 

However, on this particular visit, the doctor pulled out a board with pictures and showed Julian an image of the Taj Mahal. He then asked him to point to the country the building belonged to.

Not only could Julian say that it belonged to India, remembering a recent trip he and his family had taken, he added that the building was, "cool to the touch."

Since that visit, Natasha spends her days searching online for cheap flights abroad and coupon deals to sites nearby. 

She's found picking a city or an experience for every letter of the alphabet (ie.' A' for Africa) has helped Julian to use his associations to learn.

Still struggling

Today, Julian still struggles to read and learn and, he reads at a kindergarten level.

However, Julian, whose confidence gets better every day, does not not allow his intellectual disability limit or define him.

That's the idea behind his book, "No Limits, No Boundaries: My Journey Through the ABC's," which hit bookstands in June.

Special Olympics coupled with traveling allows him to grow, live a normal life and learn how he knows best.

He may not be that traditional learner, but he's going to be a learner.
Natasha Moulton-Levy, Julian's mom

"I'm not sure he'll ever read. I'm not sure it matters."

Natasha and Julian want families like his and all families to know it's okay to learn differently.

"For us, we've had to look at education and look at what traditional learning is and kind of make an adjustment," Natasha told Circa.

Where to next?

Julian hopes to one day qualify for the Special Olympics and compete in the World Games, like his idols Usain Bolt and Sloane Stephens.

He also plans to publish a second book.

Although it will be some time before Julian can get his hands on the Olympic torch, he plans to go forth and set the world on fire in whatever way he can.


You can follow along with Julian on his travels around the world as illustrated in his book, "No Limits, No Boundaries: My Journey through the ABC's," available here.

Follow Kay Angrum on Twitter @kayangrum.

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