Watching Valla climb and dance in the Five Counties Children’s Centre waiting room you don’t see a trace of self-doubt in the four-year-old dynamo.
Just like most of her playmates; you don’t notice she is missing her right hand until she strikes a confident pose atop a plastic school bus. Then she is off again showing you what she can do.
Later this year Valla will be able to do even more when she acquires a prosthetic hand. First on her list: climbing across the monkey bars at her school in Haliburton.
“She is perfectly her” her mother Adrienne says. “She can do anything and more.”
Adrienne first learned her daughter would have one hand during her 20-week ultrasound. Ever since Adrienne and her family have adapted with the help from a team of medical professionals including staff at Five Counties.
They have monitored Valla’s development to ensure she is hitting all the milestones. At first she had difficulties rolling over due to a difference in balance. That issue came up again when she would fall when running which has been continually monitored and treated with physiotherapy and occupational therapy.
A Five Counties speech therapist also confirmed Valla was “tongue-tied” as an infant leading to surgery to free up the tissue under her tongue. Now she speaks more clearly.
The Five Counties staff also taught Adrienne how to advocate for her daughter encouraging her to enroll Valla in school at age three so she would learn from her peers.
Therapists also convinced Valla to open up when she started hiding her arm inside her sleeve or behind her back. The little girl confided that her classmates didn’t want to hold her right hand and it really bothered her.
Adrienne spoke with her teacher who made a point of embracing Valla’s arm in front of the class. The children quickly followed suit.
“She came home ecstatic” her mother says.
On Aug. 22 Valla began testing a sleeve for a prosthetic arm and took to it right away. Next she will have a mould made then attachments anchored to the end of it. She has requested a hook so she can loop it over the monkey bars. War Amps is helping with advice the additional costs of the new prosthetic and the appointments to create it.
While her parents used to worry about their youngest daughter they have both learned from and been inspired by her. When both lost use of their right arms temporarily in the past few years she showed them how to adapt when carrying items without a hand.
“I used to not know how to deal with people with differences. Having one of my own has opened my eyes” Adrienne says. “Five Counties helps me find answers to questions I didn’t even know I should have.”
Lois Tuffin is the Fund Development Co-ordinator with Five Counties Children’s Centre. To find out more about the organization and how to help kids like Valla contact her via firstname.lastname@example.org.