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Mia’s marvelous potential is realized

Lena remembers getting to know her daughter, Mia, one word at a time.

“She had maybe a dozen words, including ‘hi, bye, ya (for Yes), Mommy, Daddy,’ and ‘uh’ (for up),” said Lena.

Six-year-old Mia has an intellectual disability and global developmental delays, and has been coming to Holland Bloorview for the past three years. Her delays affect her speech, her motor skills and her cognitive abilities.

When Mia first arrived at Holland Bloorview, she was shy and quiet and when she did say her one word, it was often difficult for others to understand, causing frustration.

Mia has been seeing a developmental pediatrician, a speech therapist, physiotherapist, and an occupational therapist. Her progress has been gradual and steady but over the past six months she’s made remarkable strides.

With Holland Bloorview’s support, Lena and her husband, Steve, are watching Mia’s personality come to life, adding to her already fun-loving demeanor.

 Lifted through language

“Now she’s speaking in four- to five-word sentences,” said Lena who was recently blown away when hearing Mia sing Christmas carols.

“It’s emotional for me to hear her speaking and to see how proud she is of herself when people understand her. Now she says things like ‘Me funny’ and tries to make jokes with her personality coming out.”

“She’s beginning to speak spontaneously to not only us, but people she isn’t as familiar with!” said Steve, noting her vocabulary is over one hundred words now. “There’s also the confidence aspect too, I think she’s more confident and willing to try to tackle larger and bigger sentences.”

Lena and Steve are also seeing huge leaps in her physical abilities. Lena recalls getting a phone call from Mia’s physiotherapist who said excitedly, “You have to see this!”

Mia’s now in motion

Lena rushed to the hospital’s school to see Mia riding a specially designed tricycle for the first time. The joy on Mia’s face was unmistakeable. The same could be said of Lena’s expression.

“We thought and hoped she would ride a bike, but not after only a month in the bike riding clinic at the hospital,” said Lena. “And she’s also running now….she used to gallop before and now she’s running all over the place!”

Both parents love the fact that when Mia reaches a new milestone, everyone is celebrating, including the hospital’s staff.

“Everyone shares in the excitement and in the accomplishment,” said Lena. “It’s just the support and the love that everyone shows her and us.”

“It’s the fulfilment of potential that we always thought was there, and with Holland Bloorview we’ve been able to unlock that a little bit. It’s been fantastic,” said Steve.

From shy about speaking to spokesperson

All of these newfound abilities and confidence has spilled over into life at home.

“She likes to help with whatever we’re doing – cooking, cleaning, household chores, she always asks if she can help,” said Steve. She now wants to be involved in making her own lunch in the morning, and is becoming more and more independent in dressing herself.  

In fact, Mia has become so outgoing and outspoken, she’s becoming involved in promoting the hospital’s programs and services.

She and the rest of her family are also excited about the upcoming Capes for Kids campaign – a family-friendly event where participants wear a cape for up to a week in March and raise money to support Holland Bloorview.

Lena will have the full support of her family, as well as her employer, BMO which has been a generous Captain Sponsor for Capes for Kids since it began in 2017.

“Holland Bloorview has done so much for us,” said Lena. “We see the gains Mia has made. We want people to know the potential children with disabilities have if they’re given the proper support in a caring environment. This is what Holland Bloorview offers to all children.”