KETTERING, Ohio (WDTN) – A Springfield nine-year-old has made major strides, overcoming struggles with his disabilities and learning to play hockey.

The ice rink is where Cameron Bessery belongs.

“This kid thinks hockey all day, all night. It’s all he talks about. It’s all he does,” said his mother, Destiny Bessery. “Our fireplace has turned into a goalie net. We have a goalie net out in the driveway. He sits downstairs and throws a ball at the wall and working on catching it and sliding and stretching.”

Cameron has autism and a speech delay. With that, also comes an articulation issue. But his ability on the ice speaks for itself.

“People with disabilities are just like everybody else. They have feelings just like everybody else. And they have abilities just like everybody else,” said Melissa Baker, community support supervisor for Developmental Disabilities of Clark County. “Everybody has limitations. Everybody has strengths and weaknesses, and that’s what we want to stress is the inclusion.”

At three years old, Cameron didn’t talk much. When he turned five, he was quiet and shy. A few years ago, Cameron started playing special hockey with the Cincinnati Cyclones, which has helped develop his verbal skills.

“They were the ones who actually ended up teaching him how to interact with kids and worked one-on-one with him,” said Destiny Bessery.

Cameron has come a long way since he first started skating. Initially playing with the Cyclones on a team with other kids with disabilities, he now plays on a team with Dayton Stealth at the Kettering Rec Center.

“I think inclusion is massive. There are not enough programs where people with disabilities are included,” said Destiny Bessery, who’s happy her son can play hockey on a team with kids who don’t have disabilities.

“I was just amazed at how confident and skillful he is on the ice,” said Valerie French, Cameron’s support services administrator with Developmental Disabilities of Clark County.

“If the parents didn’t tell me I wouldn’t have known. He’s a great skater. He’s a joy to coach. He’s fun,” said Dayton Stealth Head Coach Nick Bauman. “I just try to treat him like everyone else, just give him encouragement and just coach him like I would anyone else.”

His progress on and off the ice is evident, and he continues to grow.

“He’s starting to become social but he also struggles – he’s shy. So you’ll catch him a lot of times hiding away from people. He rocks. But he’s slowly starting to come out of his shell,” said Destiny Bessery.

March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month.