10-year-old autistic boy shows hogs at livestock show (w/video, gallery)

Kaden Ramirez, 10, of Victoria, talks about his love of pigs.
  • Schedule of Events

  • Carnival occurs through Sunday

    Friday:

    8 a.m. - Sweepstakes heifer show

    8 a.m.-3 p.m. - Kids' day arranged with the schools

    8 a.m.-10 p.m. - Petting zoo open

    10 a.m.-10 p.m. - Exhibit hall open

    10 a.m. - Commercial heifer ...

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  • Schedule of Events

    Carnival occurs through Sunday

    Friday:

    8 a.m. - Sweepstakes heifer show

    8 a.m.-3 p.m. - Kids' day arranged with the schools

    8 a.m.-10 p.m. - Petting zoo open

    10 a.m.-10 p.m. - Exhibit hall open

    10 a.m. - Commercial heifer judging

    10 a.m.-7 p.m. - County fair and ag mechanics open

    Noon-midnight - Beer garden open

    1-3 p.m. - Market lamb judging

    3-6 p.m. - Market goat judging

    6:30 p.m. - Commercial heifer winners announced

    7 p.m. - Market steer judging

    8 p.m. - County Line Band in the beer garden

    Saturday:

    8 a.m. - TCCA junior heifer show

    10 a.m.-9 p.m. - Petting zoo open

    10 a.m.-9 p.m. - Exhibit hall open

    10 a.m.-noon - County fair projects released

    Noon-12:30 a.m. - Beer garden open

    1 p.m. - Junior breeding gilt judging

    3 p.m. - Commercial heifer sale

    4-6 p.m. - Western games

    6 p.m. - Karaoke finals in the beer garden

    8 p.m.-midnight - Youth dance in Jaycee Hall

    Sunday:

    10-11 a.m. - Livestock judging contest registration

    11 a.m. - Livestock judging contest

    Noon-5 p.m. - Exhibit hall open

    Noon-5 p.m. - Petting zoo open

    Monday:

    3 p.m. - Buyer registration and sign-in begins for auction

    4 p.m. - FFA/4-H youth awards and scholarships

    4:30 p.m. - Auction in dome

  • Livestock photos

  • Share your favorite moments from the livestock show, and the one that best fits the show's theme, "Cowboy boots and country roots" will win four movie tickets. Tweet your photos to #VictoriaLS or post them at VictoriaAdvocate.com under "Your Photos" ...

  • SHOW ALL »
  • Livestock photos

    Share your favorite moments from the livestock show, and the one that best fits the show's theme, "Cowboy boots and country roots" will win four movie tickets. Tweet your photos to #VictoriaLS or post them at VictoriaAdvocate.com under "Your Photos" in the VLS category. Deadline to enter is noon March 4.

Kaden Ramirez, 10, of Victoria, hunts, participates in rodeos and shows hogs at the Victoria Livestock Show. He's also a child with autism.

Kaden's 4-H leader, Jackie Parsons, said she's been with Victoria County 4-H for 10 years and doesn't know of another kid with autism who has participated in Victoria County 4-H.

"I sit there, and I look at Kaden, and there is nothing different in him," Parsons said. "There isn't anything he can't do."

Kaden was diagnosed with autism two years ago, when he was 8 years old. Kaden's mom, Kimberly Copenhaver Ramirez, said she and Kaden's dad, Robert Ramirez, could tell something was different about Kaden by the time he was 5. Kaden often fixated on objects and was overly sensitive to loud noises and crowds, she said.

"He lives in a different world," Ramirez said. "It's just about teaching him to live and function in our world."

Ramirez wasn't sure how the livestock show would handle having an autistic participant when she entered Kaden for the first time last year, but everyone has been very helpful, she said.

When Kaden shows his hog, his mom is allowed to stand on the outskirts of the arena so Kaden can see her.

"Sometimes, he gets anxious in big crowds and locks up. If he can see someone he knows, it calms him down," she said. "Other than that, he doesn't need any help."

Kaden takes his pig, Sadie, for walks every day. He's also particularly fond of scratching her belly and lying back on her to rest.

"I love this pig," Kaden said.

Craig Lauger, a friend of the Ramirez family, said, "Kaden is a great kid. He works real hard with his pig. Nobody treats him any different."

Other parents with autistic children might not put their child into the arena, where there is the possibility of failure or a breakdown, but Ramirez said encouraging Kaden to participate is a kind of therapy.

"Autism is not curable, but it's treatable, and this is his treatment right here," Ramirez said.

Kaden and his mom wear matching custom-made bracelets, that read, "Different, not less."

But Kaden isn't scared of being different. In fact, he's not scared of anything, he said.

"I'm ready for it right now," Kaden said about the market hog judging Thursday afternoon.