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.
Tammy Whait with her son Aiden.