| Dear Family and Friends,
I know that many of you are curious to know what is going on with Hana, our youngest daughter who has been showing symptoms of autism. I’m sorry for taking so long to write to you all and really do appreciate your concern and constant prayers.
Well, we still haven’t received a definite diagnosis for Hana. We have had her examined by several doctors, psychologists, and psychiatrists here in Serbia and none of them are really sure about what exactly the problem is. Some think it might be PDD (Pervasive Developmental Disorder), which is basically a mild form of autism. Others think she is just slow and needs speech therapy and more interaction with other children her age. Still others suspect there may be some neurological problems in her brain. We just found out the results of an EEG she had the other day (a test that measures brain waves/activity with electrodes attached to the head). The doctor said the test was inconclusive, but definitely “does not look good.” We are going to try to take her to have another EEG done that is more thorough and to also have an MRI done. (I hope you’re not getting confused by all these initials!) Because of the bad EEG results, now we are wondering if this could be a case of Landau-Kleffner Syndrome – a neurological disorder which results in aphasia (an acquired disorder of language), epileptic seizures and inability to recognize sounds. Hana has been known every so often, before age 2 even more often, (in the middle of the night and during the day) to have horrible temper tantrums that could possibly be considered seizures (arching her back, banging her head on the floor and screaming uncontrollably). She still isn’t really communicating verbally, though she is able to repeat everything we say. She understands very few words and non-verbal communication is also very poor. It’s so sad and frustrating not being able to communicate with our own daughter! Please continue to pray for her recovery.
If it turns out that she does have LKS (Landau-Kleffner Syndrome), there are a few advantages in comparison to autism. This syndrome, for example, can be treated with medication and can be completely cured.
Even though this is a very trying time for us, the Lord is continuing to give us the strength we need and His incredible peace. We are leaning on Him more than ever!
Jelena was able to take a leave of absence from her work and continue to receive full salary (one of the benefits of the socialist-style government here). This benefit will continue all the way up till Hana’s fifth birthday if she hasn’t recovered by then.
We are still confused about what to do concerning treatment in America. The thing that makes it so complicated, among other things, is our older kids’ schooling. We could have them go to an elementary school in America for several months while Hana receives therapy, but we think it might be too hard to get them back into their school over here when we return. They would probably have to take a year over or go to summer school. The schools over here are much more demanding. For example, Benny who is in the fifth grade has 13 subjects! Three of those are French, English and Serbian. He’s currently learning Math and Geometry that I didn’t start learning until 7th grade or even later! Every other year all of his books, except ones for foreign languages, are in the Cyrillic alphabet. We have seriously considered a plan to have one parent go over with Hana while the other one stay back to help the other kids finish their semester in school. We would then meet up in the States during the three-week Christmas break.
If we do decide to go through with this, Jelena would probably be the one to go because Hana seems more attached to her and we don’t want to frustrate her any more than we have to. Another option is to all move back to the States for good, which we really see as a last resort. We really don’t want to move back, but we will if we come to find out that it will definitely help Hana get better.
|Sara and Benny's First Day of School|
We have been taking Hana once a week for an hour to a retired developmental specialist in Novi Sad (located an hour and a half from here) that has worked with autistic children for many years.
She has an excellent reputation and has helped a great number of children through behavioral therapy. Soon we will start taking Hana twice a week, but according to the books, this is not enough time. We have tried to do drills at home with her on our own, but this hasn’t been going very well.
|Hana with Developmental Therapist in Novi Sad|
Well, that about covers the latest. Thanks a lot for your encouraging emails, letters and for the many prayers that have been lifted up on our behalf. Thanks, too, for your financial support.
Love in Christ,
P.S. The church is doing great here. There are many new faces, including some teenagers.