FOR any 13-year-old child to have her own book published would be quite an accomplishment.
But for Alicia Fortune, from the Faythe, the launch of her first book 'Unplugged' at Readers' Paradise in Wexford last Friday was extra special, because she suffers from autism and only learned to talk when she was seven.
And with the encouragement and help of her peers and family, she is already planning her future as an author of many books.
'She could read before she could talk,' said her dad Darren of the daughter he describes as 'a real character'.
'She was diagnosed with autism three days before her third birthday. Her autism is moderate and impacted her speech, communications and social skills and she was non-verbal until she was nearly seven. We taught her to sound out her words and once she learned she didn't stop,' said Darren.
Alicia attended the Faythe School and is currently enrolled in the first year at the Presentation Secondary School, both of which have been tremendously supportive of her amibition to be a writer of note.
'The Pres welcomed her with open arms and were really helpful and accommodating to her in writing her book. They had a little book launch at the school as well and the Faythe School before that were absolutely brilliant as well,' said Darren.
Darren, and his wife Tina have three other children Alicia's sisters Chloe, aged 15, and Ava, aged seven, and Leo, aged four, and all the family members have helped to enable Alicia to reach for the literary stars.
Alicia's book tells the story of a 13-year-old boy Chris who spends all his time on his computer playing the same game, which he eventually becomes part of, going through different levels until her emerges at the other side and embraces the real world rather than the digital one.
'She has written a couple of short stories which will be included with the book, as a prelude to her next,' said Darren.
'She wants to be an author and this will be the first of manay books. This is a great start and she is full of confidence that she can do it,' he said.