Simran giggled softly as she sat on a small chair in one corner of the playroom. Everyone turned to look at her and when she realised that she was the centre of attention, she stood up, grinning broadly. We all clapped and Simran sank back into her chair and clapped too.
At two years of age, this was the first time that Simran had stood up independently and she and her parents were immensely proud of her achievement – visible evidence of the hard work that they had been doing over the past year.
During the first week of her life Simran suffered from severe sepsis and had repeated seizures. On discharge from the Special Care Unit, no follow-up had been arranged and nobody had told her parents that she could have long-term difficulties as a consequence of her illness. When she appeared to be developing more slowly than other babies, Simran’s parents sought advice from their doctor but were repeatedly told that there was nothing to be concerned about. At one year of age she was still unable to hold up her head, reach out for toys, or manage semi-solid foods. Her mother talked to her and tried to play with her but, increasingly discouraged by her failure to respond, she spent less and less time with her.
At 14 months Simran’s parents took her to meet a pediatric surgeon for an unrelated problem and, recognizing the global nature of her difficulties, he referred them to Karuna Vihar. Our assessment revealed that she had Cerebral Palsy. After discussing her needs with her parents, we developed a home program for her. Her family quickly realized the value of therapy and discovered that she was a very bright child who understood far more than she was able to express.
Today, Simran is a delightful, happy three year old who can sit unsupported, play with a range of toys, feed herself, and walk with minimal support. She communicates well using gestures and is learning to use a communication board.
Simran’s parents are devoted to her and optimistic about her future.
They have encouraged a number of others to bring their children to Karuna Vihar and her progress and their commitment have been an inspiration to many families.
Vicky learns to walk
We assessed Vicky and found him to be a bright child with athetoid Cerebral Palsy.
In spite of being unable to walk, he had developed his own innovative style of moving and got around by lying on his back and scooting his bottom along the ground. He could not speak, but communicated his needs through his own signing system.
Vicky’s parents were unable to care for him and his uncle, though himself unmarried, volunteered to adopt him. He brought him regularly to the EIC and, as the only man in the Mothers and Toddlers playgroup, was a special favorite of all.
Vicky’s personality is vibrant and courageous and he has inherited his uncle’s determination. Within a few months of regular physiotherapy, he began standing with support and quickly progressed to standing on his own. At the age of five he graduated to Karuna Vihar School where he has continued to develop his communication skills. After a year of steady, hard work, Vicky finally mastered walking unassisted. The day he took his first steps, he was so delighted with himself that he walked in circles round and round the room, laughing out loud for joy.
Today, Vicky is a happy, charming boy who loves playing and learning with his friends at Karuna Vihar and helping his uncle (he is excellent at washing dishes!) at home. Although still non-verbal because of his Cerebral Palsy, his receptive language skills are excellent and he understands most concepts that a child of his age should. His uncle is delighted with his progress and we all have hopes that one day Vicky will be able to attend a mainstream school.