With his right thumb and left hand and cheek, Aiden Silvers has all the muscle he needs physically to help design websites for his clients.
The 25-year-old Florida resident operates Wheelistic Web Design, a digital marketing agency, and has Spinal Muscular Atrophy Type 2, a genetic disease affecting the central nervous system, peripheral nervous system and voluntary muscle movement (skeletal muscle), according to the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
He was diagnosed with the disease at about 2 years of age.
Silvers is unable to gain strength and over time, the disease will reduce strength until the point that muscles die. Silvers says he went from a normal functioning body over the years to now having 24/7 nursing care to do everything for him.
“My muscles are severely weak,” he says. “I have 1% strength compared to the normal, average person.”
But that doesn’t stop him from putting in 12-hour workdays with Wheelistic, which employs five people.
The most strength he has is in his right thumb, which is what he uses to left-click the mouse. He has an additional mouse in his left hand and has it set on a book with a mousepad. He uses that hand to move the mouse/cursor with help from his chin/cheek area.
To type, he uses the on-screen keyboard and clicks each letter/command. He does all of this lying down. Both mice are very small and easy to move and click so that he can go a full day without fatigue, he says.
“You would imagine that would be a slow process using that method, but I operate like that on a day-to-day basis,” he says. “It’s not like it’s too much of a physical load because I’ve been doing it so long.”
Silvers needs to continue to work because if he stops using his muscles for too long, the strength may never return. As an example, Silvers says when he was younger, he used to play gaming consoles like Xbox and PlayStation. He decided to give computer games a try for a little bit, but controlling the game was different. When he went back to consoles a few months later, the muscles he used to control those games were no longer there.
“Because of my disease, I can’t build muscle,” he says. “If I don’t maintain what I have then you can kiss it goodbye pretty much. The little things I can do now, I appreciate what I have. I have to make sure every day to work at it a little bit even if it’s something ridiculous like turning my head or whatever it may be.”
“I really get along with a lot of people in the green industry. They are very humble and down-to-earth and I can speak to them freely without worrying about any type of judgment.” Aiden Silvers, owner, Wheelistic Web Design
For the first five or so years, Silvers said his clientele was a diverse mix of industries, but in the past two, he’s grown his presence in the green industry with about 90% of his clients being landscaping companies.
His introduction to the industry was through the Lawn Life Facebook group. He joined the group and did some free work for members, which led the group to push his services. As he got more involved with the group, Silvers realized he enjoyed working with landscapers.
“I really get along with a lot of people in the green industry,” he says. “They are very humble and down-to-earth and I can speak to them freely without worrying about any type of judgment.”
Silvers says COVID-19 did slow business down a little, but the slowdown was needed because it gave him time to focus on the company’s internal process as the business continues to grow. With that growth will come more work, which won’t be a problem for Silvers even if he loses all of his muscles.
“Eventually, there may come a time where, for whatever reason, I need to switch to adaptive speech recognition software and other technologies, but I will remain using my current method until forced into an alternative.”