PETALING JAYA: Upon meeting Aiden Ting for the first time, you’ll probably be struck at how lively and energetic he is. This 11-year-old will regale you non-stop with facts about dinosaurs, or his favourite computer game characters.
“Do you like the meat-eating dinosaurs, or the plant eaters? Do you know what comes out of dinosaur eggs?” he asks FMT Lifestyle enthusiastically. The charming lad is so full of questions, at times it feels like he’s the one really conducting this interview!
Looking at Ting’s enthusiasm, it is hard to believe he was once non-verbal, not speaking until he was five years old. Later diagnosed with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Autism-Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Ting faces problems with concentration, only being able to focus on subjects he is interested in.
Thankfully, he has discovered an outlet to express his boundless energy: making toys and figurines out of air-dry clay.
“He can sit by himself, for one to two hours, just making things with his clay. For example, he will watch a documentary or something, and then inspiration will spark. He will create all kinds of figurines,” said his mother, Elaine Yap.
Watching Ting in action can be amusing: the young lad moulds his coloured clay with vigour, taking just minutes to create a character.
As can be expected, his favourite is creating dinosaurs, monsters, or characters from computer games such as ‘Among Us’ or ‘Roblox’.
The details on his miniature figurines are impressive: you can clearly make out the fangs and claws of the dinosaurs, and even the expressions on their faces!
Yap first noticed Ting was having issues with communication from an early age: she introduced her son to various early intervention enrichment classes, including speech therapy, play therapy and behavioural therapy. The most rewarding of all these sessions, however, turned out to be art therapy.
“I think Aiden has always been very interested in art. He’s been doodling and drawing imaginary characters for a long time. I am happy he has found something that he is passionate about,” Yap said.
Ting, the eldest of two children, is currently studying at an international school in Kuala Lumpur. When he’s not making clay models, he enjoys swimming and playing computer games.
His toy-making efforts were recently formally recognised: on Aug 26, Ting was awarded an Elite World Record for ‘The Most Self-Made Toys Collection by a Tween (Male) with ASD and ADHD’ for his toy collection, which numbers 2,388 in total!
What’s even more impressive is that all his handmade figures are completely unique, with no two pieces alike.
“Our friends encouraged Aiden to apply for the Elite World Record. We agreed, thinking that Aiden’s achievement will be a good example to encourage other children with similar conditions, that they too have special talents. I’m very proud of my boy,” Yap said with a smile.
Ting’s current collection of 2,500 miniature clay toys (and counting!) keeps increasing, as he makes more and more of them every day.
Most of his toys have been boxed, and are being sold online as collectibles, to help with funding his education. Due to Ting’s challenges, he has difficulty learning in a conventional classroom setting.
“With his Elite Record Holder title, we wish that Aiden will be able to find a platform to further showcase his skilled work. As he uses a lot of soft clay for his creative work, it would be wonderful if we could find a sponsor for his clay too,” his mother concluded.
“I think Aiden is a very talented boy with a big heart, and we hope to share his art with the world. Hopefully, he can inspire more children everywhere.”