Meet the Paoli Hospital ER technician beating the odds
PAOLI, Pa. (CBS) -- Fox Ryker is a busy emergency room technician at Paoli Hospital, on his way to medical school, but you would never know he has a disability.
"I was nonverbal up until age 4," Ryker said. "Physicians thought I wouldn't be able to live independently."
Ryker has autism spectrum disorder, a developmental disorder that impairs the ability to communicate and interact.
"I had a lot of people in my life who doubted my ability to empathize or to work in a team under high-stress situations," Ryker said.
He's had a lifetime of therapy and is now able to overcome awkward situations.
"I've gotten to the point where it's called masking," Ryker said. "It's being able to act in accordance with how everyone else is acting. It takes a conscious effort."
Dr. Stuart Brillant works with Ryker in the Paoli emergency department.
"I had no idea," Brilliant said. "You wouldn't be able to tell any difference working with Fox. He's hard-working. He is task driven. He is a compassionate individual. He understands. He listens, takes the time to understand."
Brilliant only recently learn about Ryker's disorder after reading his medical school application.
"He is going to be an amazing physician," Brilliant said. "He's going to be able to make patients' lives better and to give hope to a lot of people that might not have a lot of hope."
Ryker has been accepted to medical school at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM), a dream many said would never come true.
Ryker has come a long way.
"It's certainly something, that's for sure," Ryker said.
Now, his improbable journey has him directed to one goal.
"To do the most I can with the most knowledge I can learn," Ryker said. "That made me definitely decide I wanted to be a physician."
A future doctor, inspired by his challenging life.
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