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Dakota Clarke - Miracle Toddler

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

2 year old Dakota Clarke from Newtonabbey in Co Antrim suffers with a rare condition called Septo Optic Dysplasia. This condition, which she was born with, means that she was registered blind as well as a host of other problems. Her parents Darren and Wilma raised £30,000 to send her to China for a pioneering treatment of stem cell injections. After just three weeks of the treatment Dakota was able to recognize people and objects and focus for the first time

Today Dakota and her parents are in studio to tell their amazing story

What is Septo Optic Dysplasia?
A child with SOP has optic nerves that are small and poorly developed. Instead of having over 1 million connections (nerve fibers) from each eye to the brain, people with SOP have far fewer connections. The more connections between the eye and the brain the better the vision. Some people with SOP have near normal vision in one eye, others have decreased vision in both eyes, and others are severely affected and nearly blind. An eye doctor (Ophthalmologist) can diagnose SOP by looking inside the eye with an ophthalmoscope. The front surface of the optic nerve (optic disc) appears smaller than normal. Most people with SOP have a nystagmus (unusual eye movements). The eyes may seem to move around with no real pattern or purpose. This occurs because the eyes are not able to focus well enough to hold still.
Typically people with Septo Optic Displasia have abnormalities of the brain. These abnormalities may include how the brain is formed (brain structure) and how the brain works (brain function). While both usually occur, sometimes a child has a problem only with the structure of the brain and at other times, a child has a problem only with the function of the brain. All problems with the brain can range from mild to very serious. When a child is diagnosed with Septo Optic Dysplasia he or she will undergo a number of evaluations and brain function tests (neurologic tests). A brain specialist (Neurologist) can look at the brain structure through the use of CT (computerized tomography) or MRI (magnetic resonance imaging). After these tests are performed your doctor should be able to tell if there are major problems with the brain structure.

However, doctors cannot always predict if a child will or will not have problems with brain function. When a child is less than 3-4 years of age, it is often difficult to predict future brain functions such as speech, intelligence and learning. It is sometimes difficult to assess the brain function and overall development of a child with poor vision. Visually impaired children must be taught and tested in ways that are different than children who are not visually impaired. Be sure that your child is tested and treated by professionals who have experience working with children with poor vision. Testing to determine how you child is developing and to screen for learning problems can be done by specialists such as: pediatricians, psychologists, occupational therapists (OT's), speech therapists (SP's), physical therapists (PT's) and teachers of the visually impaired (VI's). Testing can be done in several different settings including your own home, schools, hospitals, or other clinical settings. (source: )