Tyler Hansen was always a happy child, but also a little clumsy. At first, his parents didn’t think too much about it.
“Tyler’s the youngest of four,” explains his dad, Doug. “The oldest two are tall and sprouted early, so they were both kind of awkward and clumsy. We assumed it was the same with Tyler, that he was just going through a growth spurt.”
But after a while, they started to become concerned. Something seemed different about Tyler’s clumsiness, and Doug noticed he had an awkward way of running. They took him to their pediatrician and voiced their concerns. …
When I was 4 years old, I was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) at Boston Children’s Hospital. My mom will probably tell you that it was the worst day of her life — SMA is a relatively uncommon disease that comes with a lifetime diagnosis, so it caused a level of uncertainty as to what my future would hold.
SMA runs on a spectrum, and I happen to have a less severe case, called type III SMA. I can walk short distances, but otherwise use a wheelchair, and have fairly average strength throughout my body, with the exception of weakness in my legs. …
For the first few months of Arianna Condon’s life, everything was moving along fine. She was a happy baby, and seemed to be developing much like her older sister, Tessa.
“She was gaining weight, and seemed to be doing great,” says Arianna’s mom, Marina. “She did have problems with reflux, but it was nothing too unusual for a baby.”
But by the time Arianna was 3 months old, Marina started to have concerns. Arianna wasn’t lifting her head the way Tessa had at that age. Something didn’t seem right. …
Ed note: A year since this story was published, Vivienne remains stable. Her test drug, to be marketed as SPINRAZA (TM), met its clinical trial endpoints and is now under review by the Food and Drug Administration. It could be available in early 2017 for SMA Type 1 and possibly for other forms of SMA.
When Helena Liedtke was pregnant with her first child, she and her husband Helge could agree on one name only—Vivienne, which means to live.
They happily named their newborn daughter Vivienne and rejoiced in her good health.
But as Vivienne grew from infant to toddler, she was slow to reach motor milestones like crawling, cruising and walking.
“We started feeling suspicious around the time Vivienne turned 1 and wondered if she was losing strength,” recalls Helena.
Helena mentioned her concerns to Vivienne’s pediatrician at her 15-month checkup, but the doctor assured her Vivienne would be walking by the time she turned 18 months.
During the next few weeks, Helena and Helge observed their daughter and watched family videos they had taken in the past few months. “We could see Vivienne had lost strength and skills,” says Helena. …