Gill first encountered her daughter Naomi when she travelled to India to work in a Calcutta orphanage. Naomi was then four years old. Totally blind and with severe learning difficulties Naomi was left by herself in a cot all day, unable to stand or walk, to speak or to feed herself. Abused by other children and neglected by adults at the orphanage, Naomi would curl up in a foetal position and try to shut out the world.
Slowly, Gill began to win Naomi‟s trust, and after a while decided she simply could not abandon the little girl to the miserable life she was facing. Against all odds, Mother Teresa gave her permission for Gill to adopt Naomi. Naomi arrived in the UK one week before her 7th birthday. She was not yet toilet trained and could not talk or cry.
Traumatised by her early experiences, she had developed a habit of biting when she felt stressed or threatened. But Gill was determined to give Naomi a loving home, and to help her to reach her potential.
Naomi was diagnosed with Autism, developmental delay, and severe learning difficulties. Her blindness meant that communicating and understanding was particularly challenging for her. She was often extremely anxious and frustrated, leading to challenging behaviour.
Gill first brought Naomi to bibic at the age of ten and says “Naomi‟s attention span is very short, so having the assessment over several days was great; I didn‟t feel we were under pressure. Naomi was accepted for who she is, not criticised or compared with her normal peers. The bibic therapists' calm, understanding approach was so important in keeping the stress to a minimum. After the assessment there was always the knowledge that a phone call could bring help at a difficult time”.
Naomi remained on programme at bibic, returning for re-assessment and for adjustments to be made to her daily programme. In time Naomi learned to walk, talk and most importantly learned to let trust those close to her so the may guide her.
Now aged 19, Naomi can now tolerate doing things for longer – for example cooking, or arts and crafts activities. She adores music – particularly live jazz, although she still cannot bear clapping. She can accept change if it is talked through carefully. Perhaps most touching of all, she is showing an interest in the babies in Gill‟s family (provided they are quiet!), and will touch and kiss them very gently, slowly learning that not all babies and children are to be feared.
“I cannot say how grateful I am too bibic for being there to support us when all was chaos and confusion” says Gill.
And to any family who may be wondering whether bibic can help; she has this to say “Just go. You‟ve nothing to lose and a whole lot to gain”.