Anna’s Journey with Dandy Walker Syndrome

With every day that goes by, the Lopez family continues to be amazed by the development of their 2 year old daughter.  When she was younger, doctors told them that she would never walk. Anna was born with Dandy Walker Syndrome which is a congenital brain malformation involving the cerebellum at the back of the brain that controls movement. A young Anna underwent a surgery to put a shunt in her brain to help release the excess fluid.
 
When Anna turned 9 months old, her parents were apprehensive about finding care for her so her mom could return to work.  The two parents had a son who completed the Moore Community House Early Head Start (MCH-EHS) program two years before, and he'd had an excellent experience. Because of this, the couple once again turned to MCH and enrolled their beautiful baby girl into program.
 
The MCH-EHS management team, her assigned teachers, and Anna’s parents met to discuss her abilities and challenges. The two teachers' main concerns were preventing the other children from unintentionally hurting Anna during their active play, especially because it could have effected the safety of stint in the back of her head. The management staff relieved the concerns of the teachers and parents by making sure three teachers were always in the classroom with Anna and the other children.
 
At 9 months Anna needed help holding her head up, but she could pick up small items, reach for objects close by, move her fingers and wave. To encourage her to sit up, the teachers made sure she had a boopie pillow to help support her head. The teachers carried her everywhere, but to encourage her to walk, they always had a plush toy in the classroom for her. The toys supported her standing and helped Anna whenever she attempted to make steps.
 
 
After two months spent in the MCH-EHS program, 11 month old Anna watched the other children and wanted to do what they were doing.  She would roll to get where she wanted to play.  She had come so far that her teachers only assisted with her feeding.  By the time Anna was 15 months old, a third adult was no longer needed in the classroom.
 
By the end of that first program year, 18 month old Anna was standing with leg braces and used a walker designed just for her to help her learn to walk. She was able to sit at the table with no extra support and feed herself. She surprised her therapist by displaying initiative to walk on her own.  Everyone was so happy! 
 
This 2016-17 program term has just begun, and, amazingly, 2 year old Anna is walking without leg braces or assistance from adults.  She is playing like every other child in the classroom, including holding and kicking a ball.  She speaks in full sentences, washes and dries her own hands, and brushes her teeth. The teachers and Anna are now working on potty-training. Last week Anna’s physical therapist reported to her family and teachers that she no longer needs Early Intervention services.  She'd met all her goals! The teachers are surprised now that she is very verbal with her friends and knows the classroom routine, just like the other students. 
 
Anna’s outcome changed since she first started at MCH-EHS.  From the prediction that she would never walk to surpassing her goals, Anna is now walking, talking, and playing without assistance.  It's an amazing story, and we're so happy to see Anna continue to develop!