My name is Henri Holtzhausen. I was born on the 2nd of June 2004. Even though I was born only 1 week early, I weighed only 1.9kg and struggled to feed and sleep and screamed for at least four hours every day – my poor mom and dad didn’t know what to do with me! At 2 months my mom took me to a speech therapist specialising in baby feeding and that helped a bit with the feeding problems. Still it was an uphill battle getting me to be a happy baby –my mom sometimes had to push me in the pram in the house for two hours before I fell asleep.
As I grew older, my mom noticed that I was a little behind all my 6month old baby friends, but the doctor and paediatrician assured me that it was because I was such a small baby and that I would eventually catch up. I first smiled at 4 months, sat up unassisted at 9 months and started crawling at 14months. I eventually started walking at 19 months, by which time my mom decided to take me to a paediatric neuroligist, Dr. Michael Lippert at Unitas in Pretoria. I was there for less than 5 minutes when he told my parents that he was sure I had Williams Syndrome, and I had a blood test done which confirmed this. I had blood tests for hypercalcaemia and also a heart sonar, which were both normal.
Henri has since blossomed into a wonderful, loveable and very cheerfull little fellow, who loves everybody and gives of himself freely and spontaneously. When you hear for the first time that your child will be mentally handicapped for the rest of his life, your view of achievement and success instantly changes, and reaching simple goals become wonderful experiences. Raising a little boy with Williams has taught me patience, unconditional love and empathy. He has recently turned four and has only now begun to say simple words. Being able to start to communicate with him has made a huge difference and brings a whole new dimension to our relationship. I see having Williams child as a challenge, but at the same time as a wonderfully rewarding experience.
Henri started riding therapy just after his diagnosis and he goes to Kinderkinetics at the North West university once a week where has shown very good improvement to his motor skills. He also does Kindermusik and really enjoys it, although concentration is still a bit of a problem. I believe that too much pressure is not good and I don’t force, or let anybody force him into any activity. I have learnt that the only way to achieve something is through patience, repetition and and yet more patience. Simple easy steps are the key. It sometimes feel as if he will never catch on to something, and then, a few weeks or sometimes months later, it comes almost naturally. As far as the hyperacusis goes, the only sound that really upsets him is a CD that has a bad spot and keeps repeating the same sound. Other than that he will cover his ears when expecting a loud noise, but is usually quite OK with most sounds.