“Most children with Dontri’s condition don’t live past their first birthday,” says volunteer Becca Schafer.
Becca started off as a volunteer in June 2014 and now works closely with the Hope Home children and staff to maximise their development. Becca has used her degree in psychology combined with her specialist disability qualifications to help understand Dontri’s disabilities to further his progress.
Stephanie Balloo talks to Becca Schafer about Dontri’s life story and how she has searched for ways to help with his behaviour.
Dontri was given up from birth by his 18 year old mother, “presumably because of his many needs.” He has been diagnosed with Multicystic Encephalamalocia caused by Cerebral Palsy, cysts on the brain causing scarring to the parts which control functioning. As a result, Dontri is blind, has physical and cognitive disabilities, as well as a other health issues.
“But the amazing thing about Dontri is, he’s a fighter.” She explains that he has lived to see far more birthdays than most with his disabilities, and has even shown signs of development, which is unheard of.
Dontri was known to be incredibly grumpy, rarely smiled, cried a lot and banged his head due to painful headaches. He is exploring more, getting used to the physiotherapy sessions and starting to enjoy social interaction too.
“While in previous months he kept getting grumpier and grumpier he is really starting to be a happy, giggly little guy.”