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Helping Makai Run, Jump and Climb

Makai, 13, loves to swim and take care of his chickens. He also loves to write. This carefree life was not always a certainty for Makai. When he was a baby, his mother struggled to care for him. He spent long hours in a crib and developed little muscle tone. By age 2, he was nonverbal, prone to biting and in the care of foster parents. Social workers told them that he was autistic and would never walk or talk.

Rob and Reece, his foster parents, pushed to transfer Makai’s care — and that of their three other foster children — to Children’s National Hospital. “The plan was for him to be reunited with his mother,” Rob says. “But while he was with us, we were determined to get this little boy the care he needed.”

Rob and Reece later adopted all four children. Our orthopeadic team found that Makai had internal tibial torsion, a musculoskeletal variant that children often outgrow. Physical therapy at home helped.

When Makai was 5, our neurology department determined that he was not autistic, but had had fetal alcohol syndrome, which can result in brain damage and stunted growth.

A proper diagnosis enabled Makai’s family to better understand the support he needed, including at the right school. “He is now a runner, a jumper and a climber. He has his limitations, but he enjoys life,” Rob says. “A lot of that resulted from Children’s National caring about a creating a bright future for Makai.”

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