Eliana Rogers, 2, lives in Tipp City with her parents, Daniel and Maria, and older sister, Olivia. She has Down syndrome, and after being in the NICU for 5 months, Eliana began work with Riverside’s Early Intervention program around the age of 7 months.
“She was a preemie,” explained Maria. “She has lots of things going on, her heart, she’s on oxygen and has feeding tube. But she just learned to sit up. That’s been our main goal for a long time. She’s working on balance, left to right, not falling over, putting her hands out.”
Maria also said Eliana’s vocabulary is growing. “She says “da-da” a lot. She also says ‘I did it,’ ‘no,’ ‘night-night,’ ‘all done,’ can say ‘ma-ma’ and tries to say ‘Olivia,’ her sister’s name. She can do some sign language for ‘more’ or ‘all done.’”
She takes in a lot of things going on around her. She can also follow simple commands such as clapping or giving kisses. She likes light-up toys, as well as toys that she can push or spin. She likes watching Miss Rachel videos on YouTube, closing doors, flipping light switches and going “bye-bye.”
Maria explained that in the course of Eliana’s work with Karen Lohnes, OT, an occupational therapist with Riverside Early intervention, they discovered something they never knew.
“I explained to Karen that Eliana really did not like being put in certain positions and it seemed to really cause her pain. Karen really listened and instantly had the thought that it could be possible that she had a tethered spinal cord (where the cord adheres to the spinal column). I don’t think anyone would have caught that, and Eliana will soon be having surgery to correct it.”
Without treatment, Maria said the condition can cause pain or delays in walking, nerve damage and incontinence. When Eliana has the surgery, they expect it will relieve her pain and increase her mobility.
Despite those challenges, Eliana exudes a joyfulness that is magnetic to those around her. “She really has one of the best attributes … every single person, strangers, people at church, everyone comments on how her smile lights up the room. She is just very sweet. She’s a very innocent and happy, easy-going girl.”