Kristopher's story

Kristopher's story  
Kristopher was a beautiful baby. We met him when he was just six months old. We were in a Sri Lankan Orphanage and it was love at first sight -his big eyes and cheeky grin, not to mention his ability to grasp and purloin all jewellery especially gold, while his unsuspecting admirers were still wearing it.

When we arrived back in Australia we were concerned with his lack of progress but put it down to the fact that he had been institutionalized since birth and had a lot of "catching up" to do. By 12 months of age he had still not reach any of the normal milestones such as sitting independently, rolling, yet alone showing any signs of moving and we pushed for further medical enlightenment. He was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy when he was thirteen months old. We do not have a lot of history but apparently he was premature and had a brain haemorrhage at birth, Cerebral palsy -spastic diplegia was a result of this trauma. Initially when Kristopher was first diagnosed, I went into shock. I carried him around for a full week, too scared to put him down. We have come along way since then.

Kris is mobile and walks with two sticks, using a wheel chair for longer distances. He is fully integrated into mainstream school and academically proving himself to be a creative writer of worth and is more than coping with the abstract challenge of Maths. He loves reading and has just finished ‘Mao's Last Dancer' His special talent is his sheer determination and assertiveness, that along with his very out going personality, he has the potential to succeed in normal childhood pursuits.

Kristopher needs to be continually active in order to stay mobile. If he is not kept mobile and upright –taking the weight through his lower limbs, he runs the very real risk of developing fractures due to osteoporosis and may end up in a wheelchair permanently.

Since his diagnosis Kris attended early intervention therapy two or three times a week. He has been poked, pummelled, pushed and manipulated by adults with one of the main offenders being his mother. He has made tremendous gains but did not always look forward to these sessions. It was through one of his physiotherapist that we heard about the Heartwell Program. What a break through! In Kristopher's own words it is an "awesome cool program" and he sees himself as "totally making progress" on real equipment doing "real stuff." He particularly likes to compare his assessment results with his past achievements and is extremely proud of his progress. He has increased stamina and strength and he can see the benefits of this.

We never expected him to cope as well as he does and the support given now at 12 years of age is perhaps as crucial or even more than before. As his body changes and develops, more stress is put on his skeletal frame by his muscle limitations, and this is when deformities start to develop. By keeping him physically active especially during any growth spurts, we can keep his muscles toned and supple enough to cope and therefore avoid succumbing to a wheelchair, the use of which poses even more threats to his long-term mobility.

We are very grateful to Kristopher's sponsor who has sponsored him for the last two years and through the meetings and interactions with all the people involved, Kris' self esteem has developed and blossomed. Kristopher's sponsor, the Heartwell team and Kristopher are all equally responsible for this. As a result of this, Kristopher takes more and more responsibility for his actions and is well on the way to an independent adult life style. To the Heartwell Team and the Sponsors for all of the children. As the saying goes, "Life is what you make it" and you are all making it!

Helen (Kristopher's mum)


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