Northern Ireland

Tim Peake's message for Limavady boy with autism

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionHayden had limited speech until a momentous day in his life and the life of the astronaut Tim Peake

It's not everyday you get a message from a real live astronaut, but that's what happened to seven-year-old Hayden Geraghty.

Hayden, from Limavady, has autism and had limited speech until a momentous day in his life and the life of the astronaut, Tim Peake.

As the astronaut was being launched into space in 2015, Hayden began to count down to the rocket's take-off.

Since then, the little boy's speech has improved dramatically.

On Wednesday, Major Tim, who became the first British astronaut to blast off to the International Space Station, tweeted to say he was "delighted" that Hayden was making such great progress.

Image caption Hayden has autism and until December 2015 his family had never heard him say a full sentence

His mum Caroline said he is unrecognisable to the boy he was a year ago: "He was a very withdrawn little boy".

"He didn't make much eye contact and he was with very into himself," she said.

"We used to worry - are we ever going to find out what Hayden's all about?

Image copyright Twitter

"As the countdown began, he joined in. It totally transformed him and was the first proper sentence we'd had from him.

"He's been talking about space ever since".

Image copyright Geraghty family
Image caption Hayden had the chance to meet his hero when he visited Belfast

Hayden is now the youngest member of the Astronomy Ireland club and even met his hero last year when Major Tim Peake visited Belfast in October 2016.

Image copyright ESA
Image caption Tim Peake was launched to the International Space Station in 2015 and returned six months later
Image caption Hayden even has his own special badge

More on this story