|The 2 sisters enjoying the horse and cowboy show|
This time last year, Maya was getting closer and closer to recovery. I kept saying “It’s so close, I can smell it!”. It was a phrase many friends have heard me saying, an affirming mantra to motivate myself to keep going and keep reaching for bigger and better progress. True enough, I smelled it, I inhaled it and now we’re breathing in the Recovery.
The year 2010 has been the most challenging year as well as the most rewarding ever. I read my previous posting and I was reminded again of how far Maya has come http://mayaviktoria.blogspot.com/2009/12/year-that-was.html . At the start of 2010, Maya was still a child requiring special education and therapy, her Autistic characteristics though lessened were still apparent. By the end of 2010, Maya is now a typical girl albeit with a few quirks. But hey, every one’s gotta have a few quirks and eccentricities right?
In June 2010, after several diagnostic assessments and tests, Maya has officially lost her previous diagnosis of Autism. She now falls under the Non-Autistic range, not only that, she scores rate her to be higher-functioning within the neuro-typical range. To have recovered Maya in exactly 2 years since her diagnosis is truly a blessing, a testament to Maya’s strength and resilience. By mid-2010, Maya no longer required specialized 1 on 1 ABA therapy. She then went on to several different kindergartens, finally in the 3rd and last kindergarten, Maya finally found her groove. She no longer required a shadow aide and has been flying solo for the past 5 months. Scholastically, Maya has excelled. Her reading is above grade-level, her grasp for maths is amazing and she’s getting on very well with drawing and writing.
|The 4 amigos in pink|
In October, Maya turned 5 years old. She had the birthday party of her dreams, surrounded by her little friends in a kids spa. She has lots of friends and makes friends easily. We can take her everywhere and she’d be beautifully well behaved. Maya has developed a 5 year old sense of humor and makes jokes with us often.
Maya now goes to ballet school twice a week and a jazz dance class once a week. She is begging me to take her to piano class as she has a love for music. She surprised us with her musicality by teaching herself to play the piano. She has finally found a love for bicycling, after 2 years of her little pink bike sitting gathering dust ignored. For Christmas this year, we gave her a scooter, within 1 day she has mastered the art of balancing on it as well as pedaling with the other leg. She goes hard and fast and is a dynamo on it.
|Zoom zoom zoom!|
Went we went to Sydney recently for Christmas, many friends and family members who have not seen Maya for 2.5 years all remarked at the change in her. They could not believe she was the same girl as before. Previously she would cower away from people, refused to meet anyone’s eyes and never spoke. She was very withdrawn, anxious and gets very easily distressed. Now, she’s gregarious, chats away to everyone, gives everyone a hug, joins in all the fun, plays with all the kids and even adults. Friends constantly told us that they wouldn’t have believed that this was a child previously affected by Autism if they had not seen it before with their own eyes. The before and now is amazing indeed.
Maya now is capable of sensing whenever she needs a break, previously I would notice tell-tale signs that she has had enough and needs a break. This usually occurs in a social setting, when surrounded by crowds and lots of activities. These situations are usually the most stressful for her, though she handles it beautifully now. So long as I could tell whenever she needed a time out, I would take her to a quiet corner so she can chill out and regroup herself.
Recently during the Christmas season, Paul and I would be busy chatting away with old friends and both Maya and Yasmin would be happily playing away with the other kids. Unlike when we were back in KL, most of the time in Sydney I didn’t really take the time to check on how Maya was doing because she was doing great when we went out. Most times, she could fully participate in the entire time we were out. But on a couple of occasions, when in an unfamiliar place, Maya came up to me and said “Mummy, can you find a quiet place for me to rest please?”. So in those instances, I would either ask the host for a quiet bedroom where Maya could chill out for a bit. If we were in a crowded restaurant, I would sit her in her reclining stroller and pull the canopy down low so she could get some privacy. Usually 20 minutes was enough for her and she’ll be ready to join in the fun afterwards. Previously she would keep going until she’s at her breaking point and would fuss and whine because she was over tired or over stimulated. What a great ability, to identify when oneself is over-tired or overwhelmed AND recognizing the need to take a breather. Most adults can’t even do that.
|At the farm feeding baby lambs|
Now, not only does Maya speak English fluently and beautifully, she is now learning to speak Bahasa Malaysia and Mandarin. Barely 1.5 years ago, we worried if Maya would even be able to master the very basics of one language, now she is well on her way to
becoming multi-lingual. Nearly all our friends and family in Australia remarked that Maya spoke in an American accent. Courtesy of our American-trained ABA therapists:-)
Apart from frequent consultations with Dr Erwin Kay as well as Dr Rina Adeline, we also had the opportunity to consult with Dr Jeff Bradstreet. With him, we delved further into Maya’s heavy metal toxicity. This year we aim to focus on her mitochondrial dysfunction as well as her immunological dysfunction. We hope that this year will see improved health overall in Maya. Her frequent illness, low weight gain and low muscle tone will hopefully be addressed. We will restart our previously abandoned chelation protocol, now to be replaced with Dr Bradstreet’s protocol. I have a long list of action items from our consult with Dr Bradstreet, however I was not able to implement most of them as we had to leave for Sydney almost immediately after we saw him in Bangkok. But now that we’re back, I am excited to implement everything we have learnt, from the consult as well as from the Integrative Care for Autism Conference in Bangkok.
Recently, we finally managed to start homeopathic treatment with Dr Michael Bielby, an Australian MD who also has a special interest in holistic and integrative healthcare. http://www.yourhealth.com.au/select-alternative-doctor-natural-medicine-sydney-nsw.php. Dr Beilby combines conventional DAN Biomed with biofeedback, naturopathy and homeopathy. He uses biofeedback for diagnostic as well as treatment purposes, he also relies on biomedical supplements and homeopathic remedies which he mixes for us specially on the spot. His main concerns for Maya are toxoplasmosis, parasites and heavy metals. His biofeedback treatment and homeopathic remedies will compliment our existing biomedical protocol. We came back with a few bottles of homeopathic remedies as well as a list of action items.
This year, we will also start the search for an appropriate school for Maya. She will be turning 6 years old in October, thus she will need to be in an elementary school. This was a topic that Paul and I have avoided for so long, many of our friends with neuro-typical children have already decided on which schools and have put their kids on waiting lists since they were toddlers. Maya was deep in Autism then, but now we are confident that she is blossoming in the mainstream school. We would most probably choose a private school, and we have yet to decide whether to choose a Malaysian, Australian, British or American curriculum for her. The fees of private international schools are staggering and this will definitely be a factor when choosing. Most importantly, we want Maya to be in a safe and supportive environment, her happiness is of the utmost importance.
The past few weeks when we were in Sydney for the Christmas season, we had the most wonderfully hectic schedule, seeing friends and family every day. We went to the beach nearly every day, ran around the parks and gardens, the girls played with all the kids we knew. Both girls loved playing with puppies and fed birds and farm animals. This was by far the best Christmas we ever had and the best holiday ever as a family. The girls absolutely loved Sydney and on our last day as we were packing for our flight home, Maya yelled at us saying “I don’t want to go back, the holiday is not over!” Both the girls were very sad to say good bye to their grandparents, family and all their friends, especially their adored cousin Jack.
|The 3 cousins|
A friend asked me recently why I am continually on the go, always trying new treatments. Why don’t I let the current treatments do it’s job and wait for the healing? As many of you know, it is not in my nature to just sit back and wait for good things to happen. If there is something I can do to improve my girls health, even a tiny percent, then why not do it? Imagine, if I had decided to stop and be satisfied with Maya’s improvements 1 year ago, Maya would not be where she is now. Yes, she would still be better off compared to many Autistic children I know, but why close your mind off to the possibilities? Just because Biomed worked wonderfully for me, doesn’t mean that I will not explore other treatments. I had the opportunity to do biofeedback and homeopathy with an esteemed Australian doctor, I grabbed it. I had the opportunity to consult with Dr Bradstreet, a world-class autism specialist, I grabbed it. I will not sit back and watch opportunities pass me by, opportunities that may be of greater advantage for my child. I remind myself to avoid tunnel-vision, always think outside the box, to let go of my fears and grab the opportunity when the universe hands it to you on a platter.
The year 2010 came with many challenges, intense hardships and crippling sacrifices. But it also gave us the biggest rewards ever. I hope 2011 will be just as rewarding. The smell of recovery is sweet, every breath drawn is intoxicating. The glimmer of hope and sunshine many of my friends are already now experiencing is merely a sneak preview of the happier days to come, so hang in there my Super Mums & Dads. The fruits of our labour through therapy, biomed and prayers have come to bloom. Keep reaching for the highest peak my friends, for the air up there is pure and sweet.