WHEN Alyssa dos Santos was born, her parents were told by doctors there was little hope she would ever walk or talk.
Sixteen years on, she has proved everyone wrong and is now working in her spare time at her parents' Goan food stall, in the new Surrey StrEatery, serving and chatting happily to customers.
She is also carrying on general studies at a special school in Earlsfield and has recently gained a qualification in food health and safety.
Her remarkable achievements, which now see her with ambitions to become a nutritionist, come after being born with microcephaly, which leaves sufferers with a smaller than usual-sized head, resulting in learning difficulties. Alyssa said this week: "The doctors said I couldn't ever walk or talk, but I just decided to try to overcome it.
"It has been a little bit difficult, but I was really positive. I will never give up with anything I do."
Alyssa said she had also been interested in food.
She added: "We do cookery at school and I help my parents out whenever I can. I really enjoy serving customers and I am now more confident. It has helped me grow. "
She added: "I would like to work as a nutritionist."
Alyssa's parents, Sarah and Alex, have been running their business at the Surrey StrEatery since it opened a few weeks ago as the latest outlet for their range of Goan food.
Their authentic curries and other products are made in premises in Windmill Road, West Croydon, where the family business has been based for the past four years.
In addition to the Surrey StrEatery, the products are also on sale at farmers' markets around London.
Sarah said she and her husband were very proud of how well Alyssa had done.
She said: "As a family we are very motivated and we wanted to help to give her every chance to do well. "Alyssa has also received a lot of support from her older sister, Simone."
She added: "She was never prepared to accept what the doctors said and it has helped that she is a very determined person.
"It may sometimes take her ten times to do something that many people could do first time, but she always perseveres. Life can be hard for her but she is a very special child. She always has a smile on her face and always keeps on going."