The Girl who had to ‘Hold on Tight’
Maya was very ill when she was born and had to stay in intensive care for many weeks. Her own mum was not well enough to look after her, so her grandmother took the baby home to look after her. Granny loved Maya. From by 18 months the family started to worry. Maya did not talk at all. She did not play like other children her age, although she had some interest in her teddies, – making them walk, putting them to sleep. But it was impossible to join her in her play, because all she wanted to do was to hold on to whatever she had in her hand. Her gran carried her most of the time. She would then pick her up to comfort her, and let her have whatever she wanted. And she did not pooh. Often not for days or even weeks. Whenever Maya got frustrated, especially when she could not have or keep something she wanted, she would throw herself on the floor and scream and scream. It was terrible. The local diagnostic team said that Maya’s was autistic.
The family asked me to help. Gradually we worked out that although this made Maya go quiet, picking her up every time was actually not helpful. Nor was it helpful to carry her so much or do everything for her, as she was no longer a tiny baby. Instead, Maya needed more encouragement to be independent and to have fun with other people.
By now Maya’s mum had recovered and came to visit every day. Maya loved climbing on her lap. Gran, mum, Maya and I worked together for about 1 year , trying to understand what was going on, how to woo Maya into wanting to play with us and to help her build her mind. Eventually Maya started nursery. Gran didn’t think she’d manage. Maya loved it. At nursery Maya got so busy playing, that she forgot about holding on to things, including her pooh.
A year later I met Maya and her family again. They wanted to share that Maya is now talking and playing like any other child. That even school can’t see anything different about this little girl. Maya is keen to learn and popular with other children. She has lots of friends. ‘Mummy, mummy, can you help me climb up over there!’, called Maya as I was talking to her mum for too long.
(All names and other identifying details have been changed.)