Dan was the fourth child to come live at Precious Kids Center. I had met him in January of 2012 one day when we were in an area of town called Bosnia doing a medical clinic. A friend brought me over to meet him and talk with his mother, Evelyn. I learned that she had seven children and her husband had died a few years before, leaving her to care for all of her children on her own.
A few weeks later I went to the District Hospital and ran into Evelyn. She told me that Dan had come down with meningitis and had been admitted at the hospital for the last few weeks. We visited them regularly and helped her talk with the doctors to understand what was going on.
After Dan was discharged from the hospital we arranged a visit to their home and walked in and heard Dan grunting and playing in a dark room near the back of their mud hut. Evelyn explained that because she was on her own she went out to find work or tend to their small farm most days. She explained that if there was food for Dan they would take him out of the back room and feed him and if there wasn’t food he would stay there until there was. Dan is severely Autistic and as a result of all of the time he spent all on his own without any intervention and little interaction he is stuck in his own little world. He was ten years old when he came to live at Precious Kids Center and he looked like he was about five or six. He didn’t respond to his name and didn’t like being touched. He cannot walk or talk and needs to be fed. He also has epilepsy and was not on medication because Evelyn couldn’t afford it. His mother had little knowledge about where to begin with Dan. She didn’t know what Autism was and described his seizures to us by saying “sometimes he begins to play in a whole new style and he shakes a lot.” Evelyn did her very best, but with little education and resources plus the fact that she is all on her own and they live about 45 minutes outside of Kitale town, where many services are available, it was difficult for her to provide him with the care that he needs.
So we decided to take Dan into Precious Kids Center. He now will stop playing with his hands and look up for a second to see what is going on when his name is called. We were able to get him the proper scans and find a combination of medications that keeps his seizures under control. He is still getting therapy and we are trying new ways to encourage him to start using his hands and feet more. He is a little more used to being touched and being around other people, but is also very content to be in a room by himself, while playfully grunting and chuckling to himself.
Evelyn still makes frequent visits to spend time with her son. She realizes that she wasn’t able to care for him in the way that he needs and is very happy to see the progress that he has made since coming to Precious Kids Center. When schools are out, she brings her other children along on these visits to spend time with their brother. It’s great to have a parent who is still willing to spend time with their child and love him for exactly who he is.
Dan has taught us a lot about accepting children for exactly who they are. Some kids come into the house and make instant and dramatic improvements and others, like Dan, make slow, subtle improvements over time. Our job is simply to provide each child with the supports that they need to have the best quality of life possible and to keep accepting them for exactly who they are at the end of the day. We love Dan and are excited to be on this journey with him.