Sophie, now aged eight, became a client of Novita when she was just six months old, following a referral from the Women’s and Children’s Hospital. She has been a regular visitor to the Mighty River Run over a number of years, taking delight in watching the flotilla sail down the Murray and meeting the boaties.
Sophie lives with cerebral palsy that affects all four of her limbs, epilepsy, microcephaly, hearing loss in both ears, visual impairment, and swallowing issues as a result of congenital Cytomegalovirus. “Sophie has challenges all day, every day,” says her mother Angela. “She needs assistance to eat, drink, dress, communicate and get through her day to day activities.”
Novita provides Sophie with physiotherapy, speech pathology and occupational therapy services, as well as support for her family. Equipment-wise, Sophie uses a wheelchair, ankle-foot orthotics, a Rifton walker, special chairs and a portable ramp, all provided by Novita. In her toddler years, Sophie enjoyed Novita’s playgroup and Splashers hydrotherapy sessions, but now that she is at school, Novita staff visit her there to provide her with therapy sessions. “Novita has also provided our family with a great, supportive network of other families who are dealing with similar situations to ours,” she says.
Angela describes her little girl as a happy child. “She entertains herself, is rarely upset, and enjoys the social interaction with the therapists and other children at Novita,” she says.
The ongoing therapy and access to specialist equipment has seen Sophie reach some exciting milestones. “Sophie ‘commando crawled’ for over a year,” says Angela. “With ongoing therapy, provided at home, she eventually crawled on all fours. Within the last two or three years Sophie has taken steps, first with the support of a Pony walker, and then a Rifton walker, with which she is now walking well.” Angela hopes that one day, Sophie will walk unaided.
Eating, drinking and communication remain ongoing needs for Sophie, who uses a PODD (pragmatic organisation dynamic display) book to communicate at school. “I hope that she will eventually be able to eat better and communicate her needs, with continued speech pathology,” Angela says. “She will always need physiotherapy and occupational therapy too, as well as new equipment as she grows.”
The Mighty River Run, fundraising for Novita, means a lot to Sophie’s family. “Without Novita, Sophie would not be where she is at today,” says Angela.
Angela and her family appreciate each and every donation to a Mighty River Run crew. “Thank you for your interest in supporting someone with special needs, like my daughter Sophie, to better live and survive in this world,” she says.