Kindle, age 10, loves to talk. With three brothers and three sisters, she knows how to be heard in her tight-knit, busy family. An active, healthy girl, Kindle was fully engaged in life until a seemingly minor incident on the playground at school triggered a rapid cascade of frightening physical, sensory, and cognitive issues.
“January 23, 2020 started as any other day, and then two hours after recess the ambulance was rushing my baby to the hospital,” remembers Kindle’s mom, Diane. “It took a horrifying, exhausting week of testing and research to confirm Kindle’s diagnosis - functional neurological disorder.”
Functional neurological disorder (FND) describes a condition of the central nervous system, specifically how the body sends and receives neurological symptoms, that can’t be medically explained. Kindle was experiencing tremors and spasms throughout her body, as well as burning and tingling in her extremities. She was suffering from chronic pains, bouts of weakness and temporary paralysis, unconsciousness, severe headaches, lethargy, and confusion, in addition to depression.
“Naming Kindle’s medical disorder answered one question, but left us with countless others,” Diane continues. “We were overwhelmed with the diagnosis and her suffering… until we found The Children’s Institute.”
“The Children’s Institute of Pittsburgh has always been a place where healing begins,” describes Behavioral Health Therapist Bethany Crile, MA, NCC. “Our behavioral health services are client-centered and child-directed to specifically address each child’s unique needs. They are also accessible, offered in person at multiple locations or virtually through telehealth delivery.”
“Kindle is an incredibly resilient child, and her imagination and energy help her to fully engage in behavioral therapy,” Bethany explains. “She is learning how to self-heal by identifying and better managing the triggers that speed up or slow down her central nervous system. Kindle deserves all the credit for the amazing progress she has made so far, with recognition to her entire family for their willingness to encourage her every day.”
While Kindle’s symptoms of motor and sensory dysfunction and altered awareness continue, these episodes are significantly diminished because of her work with Bethany during weekly teletherapy sessions and daily practice with Mom. She still experiences moments of fear when her body can’t keep up with the lifestyle she is working to regain, but through mindfulness exercises, Kindle is learning to direct her focus to the here and now. Bethany is helping Kindle to better cope with daily stressors, regulate emotions, and increase her attention, which improves her physical and mental health.
“Kindle trusts and loves Bethany, and I know how much Bethany cares for Kindle,” says Diane. “We came to The Children’s Institute in despair. Today, we have hope. That hope makes healing possible.”
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