Over­seas treat­ment worth ev­ery penny

Matamata Chronicle - - News - By NI­COLA STE­WART

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.

ni­cola.ste­wart@wrcn.co.nz

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