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Eliza’s
Story

Eliza* was referred to our Paediatric Developmental Program by her local GP after she struggled to settle into kindergarten.

School was a challenge and Eliza spent most of her days there upset and crying.

Her teacher reported that Eliza struggled to stay focused and tended to be disruptive. Her reading and writing weren’t progressing at the rate expected in that crucial first year, leaving her mum Renee* surprised and concerned about the difficulties her little girl was facing.

“When Eliza started getting upset before school, I put it down to her getting used to being away from us. I thought it would sort itself out in a few weeks once she settled in,” says Renee.

But six months in, things seemed to be getting worse.

During a check-up, their local GP flagged that something deeper could be causing the changes in Eliza’s behaviour, which could be caused by the bacterial meningitis that Eliza had contracted the year before.

Because of the risk of long-term complications following the disease, the GP wanted Eliza to have several different screenings to check for any lingering health issues that could be contributing to her difficulty settling in at school.

Because of the lack of allied health services in the local area, Eliza was referred to our Paediatric Developmental Program.

Here she would receive a full range of assessments from a team of clinicians during a week-long stay at our Centre for Country Kids in Manly.

When Renee first received the referral, she was worried about the cost of the program, but thanks to the generosity of our wonderful supporters, we are able to provide this service to country families at no cost.

“When we arrived, we were given a schedule for the week. One of the sessions was an eye test with an orthoptist. We’d never had Eliza’s eyes tested before. We had been referred to an eye doctor after Eliza was in hospital, but their office was a hundred kilometres away and their waitlist was huge.” She says.

Glenda, our wonderful orthoptist, assesses all children who come through our Paediatric Developmental Program for things like near and long-distance vision, straightness of eyes, eye movement, depth perception, colour vision, and muscular and coordination abnormalities.

As with most health issues, it’s vital any eye or vision concerns are picked up as early as possible.

A child’s eye will mature around eight years old. Many eye problems can be corrected if caught early enough, but after age eight, issues are much more difficult to solve and can result in permanent damage.

Sight problems can have a significant impact on a child’s ability to keep up with their classmates.

Glenda discovered the sight in Eliza’s left eye was only 51% of normal vision, and Eliza was significantly long-sighted. She was only able to identify the top two lines of a vision chart with her left eye, meaning her ‘good eye’ was working overtime to compensate, maintaining concentration in the classroom would be difficult and tiring.

Glenda referred the family to our local eye specialist for a full assessment, who recommended Eliza wear glasses all the time to enable her eyes to receive clear images, plus two hours a day of patching of the ‘good’ eye to get the left eye working again.

Again, Renee was both relieved and concerned, “I knew glasses were expensive. They said she would likely need a new prescription after twelve months. I was doing the calculations in my head and trying not to let the doctor see what I was thinking. I felt terrible.”

The families we work with come from all walks of life and given the nature of country life and the incidence of drought and other disasters over the last few years, it is not uncommon for families to be doing it tough financially.

This is why we must keep the Paediatric Developmental Program free and available to families who need health services and support for their children.

It only took half an hour to test Eliza’s eyesight, but the impact of not having that test would have lasted a lifetime.

Over the remainder of their week at Manly, Eliza was fully assessed by the team. Thankfully, it appeared there were no residual concerns from the meningitis.

Eliza had beaten the disease, and now she had the tools needed to succeed in the classroom too.

Every child deserves the same access to vital developmental and mental healthcare regardless of where they live. But the Paediatric Developmental Program depends on the generosity of people like you.

*To ensure privacy and confidentiality for our client families, our stories are representative in nature and real names and images are not used. 

 

Will you please make a kind donation today to help keep the Paediatric Developmental Program available and free-of-charge for country families throughout 2022?


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