Meet Nikolas

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Our son came to us at birth through foster care, and by 20 months he was ours forever through adoption. He was born at a normal birth weight, but his head circumference was significantly larger than babies of the same birth weight. He continued to develop normally in all ways – physically and mentally – except his head. Doctors were concerned enough that at six weeks they did the first MRI. Nothing explained the large size of the head and the head continued to overgrow with no explanation. Nikolas visited Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario to Genetics around his first birthday. The Dr. was quick to assess and recommend a test to rule out PTEN. The result was positive for a PTEN mutation. Aside from a rapidly growing head, Nikolas continued to develop normally in many ways. He said his first at nine months, cruised furniture at ten months and walked by his first birthday. Nickolas enjoyed looking at books and had a huge interest in letters and numbers. He was social and bright. He was learning quickly and engaging with the world around him. He was being followed closely by a pediatrician for development/skin observations, and so she could order yearly ultrasounds of his abdomen and thyroid. At 18 months developmentally something changed. His 50 words went down to 15 that he used regularly and ten that rotated in blocks. He used his words less and seemed way less interested in communicating. He continued to develop new words, but then new words would disappear after just a few weeks. Nikolas visited a Children’s treatment center just after his second birthday he was diagnosed with moderate Autism.

Just before his 4th birthday, he became quite ill. He had a chronic fever, chronic sinusitis, unwillingness to eat and choking for three months. The Doctors admitted Nikolas for a fast growing mass on his tonsil. They removed his adenoids and tonsils biopsying the tumor to determine it was benign. His head continued to grow at a rapid rate, and just after his 5th birthday, they did an intracranial monitor for 24 hours. It came back normal. Nikolas is now 5 and half years old (cause that is how five-year-olds measure time). By the age of one, he taught himself to all his letters and numbers up till 10. By two, Nikolas was reading most words. By three he was reading books. He reads at a grade three level and taught himself all the phonetic rules. He is a pleasant boy who has worked through the challenges Autism has brought him. He loves swimming, music and is now a fan of memorizing which bands write which song, lyrics and enjoys memorizing 5-minute segments movies we will let him watch. He is in school, and his teachers think he is an absolute joy. He is working hard at making friends, learning to play socially and this summer he will play soccer on a team. We think he has one of the best smiles on the planet. PTEN will be such a big part of his life but such a tiny part of who he is.

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