Overseas treatment worth every penny
Matamata preschooler Blues Vidamo has started to say a few words and can even count to two.
These may seem like small steps but they are ones Leigh Vidamo wasn’t sure her daughter would ever take.
Blues, who turns 4 in March, has autism and until a few months ago was completely nonverbal and had trouble understanding instructions.
In October, her family held a fundraising concert in Matamata to raise funds for a trip to the Philippines so Blues could have applied behavioural analysis therapy.
The therapy is not Government- funded in New Zealand and can cost up to $130 an hour, with a minimum of 10 hours a week recommended.
More than $4000 was raised to help Blues and Mrs Vidamo fly to the province of Cavite for two weeks in November.
Blues was assessed by a developmental paediatrician and an occupational therapist, who developed a therapy programme for her.
Mrs Vidamo, previously a music teacher, has continued the therapy at home and said it has made an incredible difference.
‘‘Blues has learned how to sit still – if you ask her to sit down, she will.
‘‘ She is trying to say some words like banana and icecream, and she can count to two,’’ she said.
‘‘We can now sit at the table and have a meal as a family, and she eats by herself.
‘‘Usually going out shopping, I dread it ... I couldn’t go anywhere because she would start having her tantrums. Now, she just gives me her hand and we just go and we’ll be OK. ‘‘It is really, really amazing.’’ The trip would not have been possible without the support of the community, she said.
The funds came from ticket sales for the Gap 5 fundraising concert, and many people also made donations.
‘‘It was very overwhelming,’’ said Mrs Vidamo.
‘‘We are really, really thankful.’’
The next step is for Blues to spend a year in the Philippines with her father’s family so she can continue with the therapy.
Her parents, and older sister, Jazz, will stay in New Zealand to work and save for a private therapist.
‘‘It’s a pretty big decision but I think it is what’s best for her,’’ said Mrs Vidamo.
‘‘Right now it isn’t really sinking in but when that day comes [for Blues to leave] it’s going to be really hard.
‘‘Thank God for Skype and Viber and Facebook – at least we will still get to see her.’’
The hope is that when she comes home, she will be ready to attend mainstream school.