SAN ANTONIO – To many people, Scrabble is just an average board game, but to one autistic 9-year-old boy, it is a passion that he has mastered.
Ricky Rodriguez was diagnosed with autism at 18 weeks. He has been interested in words and spelling since he was a toddler.
“He started off reading and that transitioned to playing on apps and on the phone and then to Words with Friends,” said Guillermo Rodriguez, Ricky’s dad. “Then he started reporting some really big numbers and at first we thought he was just exaggerating but then you start to look at some of the games he is playing and then you are like, wait a second. He is playing like some real words. Like some serious words. He is wining against other people online.”
That’s when they introduced Ricky to the game of Scrabble.
“He started beating me easily,” Guillermo Rodriguez said. “It was pretty impressive to see a 7-year-old beat dad. That translated into beating mom and then grandma who is a far more avid Scrabble player.”
The family then explored ways to challenge Ricky.
“We found out there is a local meeting at the Lion’s Field here in town where the Scrabble community would meet weekly and get together to play with different people,” Guillermo Rodriguez said. “Then we started to advance more and found out about different tournaments in Texas. He doesn’t always win but he does win. In one tournament he actually walked away with second place in his division.”
Ricky’s mom, Erin Rodriguez, said it’s all thanks to his early years of him being so great at words.