Child of the month – November 2010

CHILD
of the month

By Rich Petersen

Albino Trinidad Gaytán Alejandre

 

child-nov10I am hoping you won’t mind that I write again about a little boy featured a little more than one year ago. His progress over the past year has been quite amazing, and he was the “special” child presented at our last monthly meeting.

This is two-year old Albino Trinidad Gaytán Alejandre. Albino is the youngest of three children and lives with his parents and siblings in Ajijic. His Mom, Gabriela, is a housewife and Dad, José Trinidad, is an automobile mechanic.

As you can see in the photo, Albino’s head is not as big as you would expect for a two-year old. This is an anomaly known as microcephaly. I have written in the past about children born with hydrocephaly where the size of the head is much bigger than normal; microcephaly is just the opposite. The child’s head at birth is much smaller than normal and concomitantly the brain is much smaller. There is a risk of mental retardation, but not in all children, many of whom will have normal mental development.

Causes for this condition are varied, and include: exposure to hazardous chemicals/substances, exposure to radiation, lack of proper vitamins and nutrients in the mother’s diet, infection, prescription or illegal drug use, alcohol consumption, and maternal diabetes. None of these factors seem to be present in Albino’s family, however.

Albino’s parents have been diligent in pursuing tests and opinions about their little boy’s condition and in learning how to help him. A year ago it seemed doubtful he would begin to develop normally, but after another year of twice-weekly therapy (both at the Chapala DIF and at the Hospital Civil in Guadalajara) plus daily home therapy from his parents, Albino is showing marked improvement. While he would still be considered “slow” for his age, his parents and I have seen marked improvement. Mom has learned several therapy techniques to use at home so Albino doesn’t go one day without the proper stimulation and exercise.

Unfortunately, there is no treatment for microcephaly. Since microcephaly is a life-long condition that is not correctable, management includes focusing on preventing or minimizing deformities and maximizing the child’s capabilities at home and in society. Positive reinforcement hopefully will encourage a child like Albino to strengthen his self-esteem and promote as much independence as possible. He will be prone to delayed motor functions, speech and facial distortion, short stature, hyperactivity, possible seizures, and poor coordination and balance. Physical and developmental therapy, plus medications and lots of love are the current options. At our meeting last month Albino was attentive to what was going on, played with several of his toys and gave all of us a couple of great smiles.

Remember—to learn more about Niños Incapacitados and the work we do, and to meet one of the children we are helping, please attend our regular monthly meetings at the Hotel Real de Chapala in La Floresta on the second Thursday of each month. We have coffee and socializing beginning at 10:00, and the meeting starts at 10:30. Bring a friend.

Thanks to all of you who have signed up for our new “Sustaining Niños” program by contributing monthly to the organization! To learn more, see our website: www.programaninos.org.

Ojo Del Lago
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