Nehal emigrated to the U.S. from India when she was eight years old. In 1999 she returned to India to marry Naimish in a traditional ceremony and shortly after the couple moved to the U.S. to live and raise a family.
Nehal and Naimish’s three-year-old twin daughters, Shivani and Saanvi, were born prematurely at just thirty-three weeks. As the children grew, Naimish and Nehal noticed that Shivani's verbal and motor skills weren't developing as quickly as her sister's. At first doctors thought Shivani had cerebral palsy, but she was later diagnosed with something else: a rare genetic disorder.
As a result, Shivani's speech and cognitive skills are delayed. At three, she is just learning to sound out words, and it takes her longer to process information. She also has low muscle tone and struggles with simple motor-skill tests like picking up small objects. Nehal and Naimish came to Southwest Human Development where she received speech therapy along with other therapies to help with her cognitive development and daily living skills like eating and playing.
This kind of early intervention helps young children with disabilities and developmental delays reach their full potential. Research tells us that when problems are identified early, and children receive the help they need at a very young age, their chances for success in school and life improve exponentially.
Shivani's easygoing nature and willingness to work hard have helped her make great strides. She is beginning to sound out syllables and put words together – and she loves her new preschool. Her parents are helping, too. Naimish and Nehal are exposing their daughters to their Indian heritage as well as the American culture. They attend Indian festivals here in Arizona and they are teaching the girls Hindi so they will be able to communicate in two languages.
Photos by Brandon Sullivan