Joshua’s journey a first

2017-03-28 08:16
Joshua Sandy enjoys some fun time with principal of the Carbonado Energy Autism Centre, Sunkiree Veerasamy, as mom Sandy Pekeur-Sandy and dad Marc Sandy look on

Joshua Sandy enjoys some fun time with principal of the Carbonado Energy Autism Centre, Sunkiree Veerasamy, as mom Sandy Pekeur-Sandy and dad Marc Sandy look on (Gary van Dyk)

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Joshua Sandy from Claremont may seem like a normal nine-year-old, watching cartoons and playing games on a tablet, but there’s an adventure awaiting him that could change the lives of many others like him.

His mother Sandy Pekeur-Sandy and father Marc Sandy regard him as their miracle child because he was born two months premature after they had suffered four miscarriages.

Joshua was diagnosed with autism when he was two. It has been a challenge for his parents, but it has not diminished their love for him.

Now they are facing a future that could see their son leading a more normal life and pave the way for many more children like him.

Sandy explains that people do not understand the challenges parents face with autistic children.

“We do not have an education system geared to help these parents,” she says. “There’s not enough support for parents and not everyone can afford to pay for the proper care for these children that involves speech, occupational and play therapies.

“There’s also the need of a full-time nanny and tutor and it’s all expensive. But after being at eight other schools we have been given hope that all this could change.”

Last year they enrolled Joshua in the Carbonado Energy Autism Centre at Ned Doman Senior Secondary in Athlone run by Sunkiree Veerasamy.

Veerasamy, originally from New Zealand, is a teacher who specialises in the needs of children with autism spectrum disorders. She has been in South Africa for the past four years.

“Sunkiree is an answer to our prayers,” continues Sandy. “There has been a marked change in Joshua and he has started communicating verbally but now she has started us on a journey that could change Joshua’s life forever and he will be the first from South Africa to take this journey.”

Veerasamy explains that during her own work she became familiar with the research of Dr Alok Sharma at the Neurogen Brain and Spine Institute in Mumbai, India.

“The work of Dr Sharma involves stem cell therapy that has changed the lives of many children across the world with a 91 percent success rate,” she says.

“With this therapy we find that the child’s hyperactivity reduces, eye contact improves, attention span improves, social awareness improves, interaction with peers improves, irrelevant speech decreases, response to commands improves and overall behaviour becomes more manageable.

“This treatment also involves autologous bone marrow transplantation which means that stem cells are removed from your own body, separated and transplanted into your spinal cord.

Since the cells are autologous, risk of rejection is completely eliminated.”

Sandy says the procedure is expensive but she has started some fundraising initiatives to help her son and other families in the same predicament.

“Once we have done Joshua’s procedure we will start raising funds to help the next autistic child,” she says.

“Josh will be turning 10 on Sunday and what greater gift can we give him than the chance of a new life – to talk, to be independent and one day to share his life to help others?”

On Friday you can help to change Joshua’s life by attending Be my Voice, a “Nosh for Josh” fundraiser at the Protea Hotel Fire & Ice in the city centre at 20:00. Entertainers like magician Russell Fox, Denika Veerasamy, Maya Spector, Melika Rezavi, Benjiman Beatboxer, Tasneem Williams and Wayne McKay will perform.
Tickets cost R200. The dress code is smart casual and the theme is white with a dash of blue.

For more information contact Sandy Pekeur-Sandy on 079 506 8623 or sandyp0204@gmail.com.

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