Down Syndrome Success Story: Mila 3/7/2017
Mila at 3 months of age; this picture was before open heart surgery. We posted this image on top of her hospital bed to remind us of how perfect she is and full of love despite her medical challenges.
Mila is a blessing to our family; she is our first daughter and the first granddaughter in the family. We are lucky to have such a wonderful little girl who is strong, determined and above all, very lovable. She was born with Down syndrome and diagnosed with a congenital heart condition known as Complete Atrioventricular Canal Defect. Both diagnoses were a complete surprise and it was very difficult for us to make sense of it all at the beginning. The first words we heard from the doctors at the hospital was “Sorry, we have bad news”; we immediately thought her life was in danger. Soon after, we heard the words “Down syndrome” and we began the emotional roller coaster ride of doubt, despair and acceptance. We honestly didn’t know what to think at first; we were expecting to hear “Congratulations! Your baby girl is healthy and doing well…”. We were not prepared for this news. Her heart defect was detected a few days later after we were out of the hospital by our pediatrician, which put Down syndrome on the back-burner temporarily. Although the first few weeks were full of emotional turmoil, we always knew in our hearts Mila was meant to be our daughter and after all, God would not have given us more than we could handle. This was the beginning of our journey with Mila, and since then, we have worked tirelessly to be the best parents we can possible be.
It wasn’t until a few weeks after Mila was born that we came across the book “How To Teach Your Baby To Be Physically Superb” while doing a lot of research online. To this date, we are very grateful of this chance happening occurrence. The book led us to Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential and to the realization that Mila’s development would require our unconditional support and attention. We couldn’t wait to take the “What To Do About Your Brain-Injured Child” course in Philadelphia once found out about it; however Mila’s heart condition had to be dealt with first. Mila’s open heart surgery was the most difficult thing my husband and I have experienced in our lives. At only 3 months of age Mila’s heart surgery was a great success. We couldn’t have been any happier knowing Mila’s heart was fixed and it was at that moment we knew we were given the opportunity to continue on our journey. Despite Mila’s rocky start, we decided to start teaching her how to read right after surgery using Glenn Doman’s reading program. I was privileged to have found this place early and didn’t want to waste any time. When Mila was only 6 months old when we completed the “What To Do” course and since then, have been on the Institutes Intensive treatment program. Mila is now 3 years and 4 months old and has accomplished a lot during her first years of life.
Physically, Mila has accomplished significant goals. The doctors and our family have been very impressed with Mila’s physical growth, given her medical complications her chest was very small and her muscle tone was low. We started by placing Mila on her tummy and given her lots of opportunity to move on the floor. Mila started crawling around 7 months just 2 weeks after using the incline floor. After 4 months and thousands of meters of crawling everywhere she began creeping. Mila kept working really hard and at 15 months she was cruising on anything she could hold on to. Finally, she started taking her first steps at 18 months. She finally started walking independently 21 months and is now running 20 meters non-stop.
Mila creeping at 7 months and running by age 3.
Intellectually, Mila has surpassed everyone’s expectations. We began showing Mila words in both English and Spanish. Mila’s first words were mama and dada when she was about 8 months old. She began reading when she was only 1 year of age and started reading homemade books out loud when she was only 17 months old. Mila is now independently reading both English and Spanish. She has also made huge progress with her speech. Mila started talking when she was 1 and since then has improved her language significantly. She is now speaking both in English and Spanish and can have small conversations with adults and other kids. We recently introduced French and she can now count from 1 to 15 in French. Mila is also doing algebra and is problem solving on her own.
Mila recognizing common words in Spanish at 6 months & reading out load at age 2.
Physiologically, Mila has been in great health thanks to the food rotation diet and supplements. Mila’s breathing and coordination has gotten better over the years and we continue to focus on this area of her development. Mila had a very hard time breathing prior to heart surgery trying to compensate for the heart defect. Over the years she’s learned how to take deeper breaths and coordinate her movement and speech. Mila has also increased her social skills since we began the law program and just recently started using the civil code more formally and have seen excellent results. Mila follows 3 to 4 step instructions and contributes to all family and social events.
Mila on her 3rd birthday.
Mila is now 5 years old, but intellectually, she well above age level. She reads books independently at an 8-11 year old level. She does math at a 6th grade level, and knows all of her multiplication tables and understands fractions. She has learned how to type independently on a keyboard, and can type sentences in English and Spanish. Mila is learning the piano using the Suzuki Method, and can now play three songs all by herself! Mila is speaking in full sentences in Spanish and English, and uses a very sophisticated vocabulary. She has 40 responsibilities that she does at home to take care of her family, herself and her younger brother. The Institutes has taught us more about the brain than we had every thought we would know in our lifetime and continue to learn more about it every day. The Intensive program has made the biggest difference in Mila’s life and wellbeing.
Brachiation helped Mila’s manual ability and writing to develop.
Mila has been our biggest motivation since the day she was born and continues to be the love of our lives. We are lucky to have had the support of friends and family that have been there for us since we started the program. Last but not least we are fortunate to work with the most dedicated and caring staff at the Institutes; their knowledge and guidance throughout this journey is invaluable. The Institutes has given us hope we couldn’t find elsewhere, kept us fighting every day for Mila’s victories and taught us more about the brain than what we ever sought to. Mila is now 5 years old, and at the end of last year, she Graduated to Life from The Institutes Intensive Treatment Program. She will now join a class in school with her peers, to embark on the next journey of her life.