Seven-year-old Autumn Fought has no legs. And she doesn’t care.
“I don’t think she sees herself as handicapped,” her mom, Brandi, told InsideEdition.com Wednesday. “I think she sees herself as special.”
Autumn suffered a stroke in utero, which left her with paralyzed legs that began to atrophy as she grew to be a toddler. Surgeons had no choice but to amputate her limbs just above the knees.
But that’s never stopped her from doing what she wanted, her mother says. And that includes being a gymnast.
Autumn can do front and back flips, walk on her hands, maneuver a trampoline and pull herself up on the steady rings traditionally used by male gymnasts.
“She’s really good,” her mom says. “She’s nothing but muscle. She’s going up the slide right now, using her hands. She’s unbelievably strong,” her mom said by telephone while standing in the backyard of the family’s small Texas town.
And Autumn’s spirit is just as strong as her arms.
When people ask what happened to her legs, Autumn is likely to spout just any old thing.
“Sometimes she tells people it was a shark attack,” Fought said.
She goes to public school and uses her hands to propel herself around the halls and scoots around on her bottom.
She has prosthetic legs but sees them more as a fashion accessory for displaying toe nail polish, her mom said. She actually gets around better without them, or in her wheelchair.
Autumn is one of three special-needs children adopted by the Foughts. Matthew, also 7, is legally blind and has scoliosis. Fischer, 4, is also legally blind and has a brain abnormality similar to cerebral palsy.
Fought says she and her husband didn’t intend to adopt three special-needs children; it just worked out that way.
They became foster parents first, and agreed to accept any and all kids, even those a little different from the rest.
Then they fell in love with Matthew, Autumn and Fischer.
“We realized that when you have children, every one of them is different,” she said.