A Gift of Love Opens Hearts
Eliana’s* birth was extremely traumatic, with serious complications resulting in a lack of oxygen as he was born. Unfortunately the damage was irreversible and Eliana was left profoundly disabled – both physically and cognitively. Her parents, without the resources to provide for her very specialized needs, brought her to ALEH’s home in Jerusalem. There, they hoped, Eliana would be cared for, loved, and maybe even learn to respond to those around her.
At ALEH, Eliana was indeed loved and cared for. Her specialized feeding needs, daily medical care and therapies were all meticulously provided, and Eliana grew into a beautiful girl with soft brown eyes. Unfortunately, however, those eyes were often glassy and remote. Eliana was often so withdrawn that no one could touch her or make eye contact. Engrossed in her own restricted world, Eliana spent hours repeating the same activity or motion again and again. ALEH’s staff tried numerous approaches to connect with her, but he seemed unable to break through the barriers of silence surrounding her.
Within a few months, with a concentration of specially applied communication therapy and a great deal of loving patience, Eliana began to raise her head and look straight at the person speaking to her. But for ALEH’s therapists, and for Naama – Eliana’s primary caregiver, this was not enough. They continued working in tandem to get Eliana to smile, and to respond more readily to those around her. It was Naama who discovered that music and movement therapy seemed to reach Eliana’s inner spirit and draw her out to connect with the world around her!
A recent gift package to ALEH proved to be a real breakthrough in Eliana’s development. Amongst the stuffed animals, toys, and colorful posters were several portable music players, and Naama immediately picked one out especially for Eliana. As soon as she fitted the earphones onto her head, Eliana broke out into a huge grin, swaying and responding to the music that seemed to surround her. Eliana spontaneously waved her arms and moved her limbs, ‘dancing’ to the joyous sounds.
But what was perhaps most remarkable and significant – when the song was over, and the last note had died away, Eliana looked directly at her caregiver, and clearly asked for ‘more’ (indicated through the utterance of a specific sound and a hand gesture that she had been taught).
And the music continues to play for her, in an ongoing concert of love, joy, and harmony!
* name has been changed to protect privacy
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