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Lani Makana: Gift from Heaven

She was born in May of 2007, and we named her Lani Makana — “Gift from Heaven.” She seemed to be progressing normally, but at her two-year checkup her doctor noticed some behaviors I had thought were normal. When she was excited she would posture, shake, and sometimes pace. I had seen other kids do this and I just thought it was her way of expressing her excitement. But the doctor was concerned and sent us to a specialist who suspected autism. Lani was evaluated, and after eight months of testing she was diagnosed with atypical autism. She was just about to turn three.

Her autistic postures and pacing behaviors (which we call “processing”) began to escalate. After a long, stimulating day it’s almost as if she’s downloading everything that’s happened. She has a hard time with eye contact, uses scripted speech at times, and has some aggression issues. Lani began getting OT and eventually speech therapy. She was accepted to the local elementary Pre-K at age three.

She’s almost five now. She’s about to complete her second year of Pre-K, and due to her amazing therapists, teachers, and lots of family support she’s scheduled to start kindergarten on time. She attends dance lessons and is going to be performing her first recital. We can’t say its been easy but it has been the most amazing experience. She is the most fascinating person I have ever met and most people who meet her feel the same way. I think about what her life would be without autism, but she would not be the perfect person she is today. Lani Makana you are truly our Gift from Heaven!

Amy Lutchman
Valdese, NC

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