Big ideas

Melville Times - - Front Page -

RUN­NING, climb­ing and jump­ing are a com­mon part of most child­hoods, but for one Al­fred Cove young­ster the ac­tiv­i­ties are even more sig­nif­i­cant.

Ai­den Whait (8) has never had it easy.

He was di­ag­nosed with a brain her­ni­a­tion at three weeks old, cere­bral palsy at two years of age, autism at four and spent his early years man­ag­ing epilepsy.

Just be­fore his fourth birth­day, Ai­den was crawl­ing and us­ing a walker but he could not stand or walk in­de­pen­dently.

His mother Tammy said a big break­through came when Ai­den signed on to a three-week pro­gram run by the US-founded Neu­ro­log­i­cal and Phys­i­cal Abil­i­ta­tion (NAPA) Cen­tre on the Gold Coast.

“By the end of the three weeks he was def­i­nitely a lot more con­fi­dent, his core strength was bet­ter and he was able to use play­ground equip­ment, whereas be­fore he was just kind of ter­ri­fied,” she said.

“Six weeks later he took his first steps, so we were pretty sold on the ther­apy pro­gram from the get-go.”

The pro­gram in­volves one-on-one ses­sions, five times a week for three weeks and days are made up of a mix of oc­cu­pa­tional, phys­i­cal and speech ther­apy.

A neu­ro­suit, de­scribed by NAPA as a “ther­a­peu­tic tool”, is worn for two-hour pe­ri­ods “help­ing body align­ment, body aware­ness and mo­tor plan­ning”.

Mrs Whait said some peo­ple de­scribed the treat­ment as “space age”.

She said when Ai­den was di­ag­nosed with cere­bral palsy she was told he might never speak and it was ques­tion­able whether he would ever walk. She said the pro­gram,, which costs $10,000 for each three-week block, had helped both ar­eas sig­nif­i­cantly.

“I think (the pro­gram) has changed the tra­jec­tory of his life,” she said. “I don’t be­lieve we would have seen the gains we have with­out this in­ten­sive model of ther­apy.

“When he started the ther­apy he was be­ing mea­sured for a wheel­chair. I think there was a be­lief he would walk but per­haps min­i­mal dis­tances, now he’s run­ning, climb­ing and jump­ing.”

The fam­ily has trav­elled for ther­apy to the Gold Coast, Sydney and LA since 2012 and is cur­rently fundrais­ing to pay for Ai­den to at­tend a Perth NAPA visit in Jan­uary.

“We get asked all the time, ‘how long do you do this for?’ Our an­swer is un­til we can no longer jus­tify the fi­nan­cial and emo­tional com­mit­ment,” Mrs Whait said.

“At the mo­ment, we’re so happy with his progress. It def­i­nitely feels worth the sac­ri­fice.” Visit Team Ai­den on Face­book.

Picture: Jon Hew­son

Tammy Whait with her son Ai­den.

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