Eli is 8 years old and one of his most prized possessions is an atlas of the United States. He pores over it with enthusiasm because he loves geography and wants to work at Mount Rushmore someday. He has never been there before, but he loves reading reference books, and he also enjoys learning about planets, dinosaurs and insects. (And if the Mount Rushmore gig doesn’t work out, he would like to be a chef or a doctor.)

Eli first came through Connecticut Children’s Emergency Department when he was a baby experiencing a life-threatening allergic reaction to the food he had eaten. “He was a pretty normal baby at first,” his mother, Allison says. “And then at 8 months old, he had his first anaphylactic reaction to food, his first ambulance ride.”

But other issues were looming, including severe weight loss due to a virus at age 1. “By that point, he really stopped hitting milestones,” his mother says.

A special formula addressed Eli’s nutritional needs, but he did not begin walking until he was 18 months of age and didn’t speak until he was 3½ years old. When Allison and Eli’s father, Joshua, met with Developmental Pediatrics at Connecticut Children’s they found out why: Eli has a developmental coordination disorder known as dyspraxia, which affects physical motor skills and speech.

More recently, Eli was diagnosed with non-verbal learning disorder and is being treated for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). His family has also learned that there is a genetic component to his condition. He continues to be seen in Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, and is followed in Developmental Pediatrics. The Occupational and Physical Therapies will help address his low muscle tone and moderate his emotions.

Eli—who will enter third grade in the fall—is an articulate little scholar. He can rattle off all 50 states and their capitals, and has come a long way since his diagnosis. “It was a big turning point for us,” Allison says. “He is such a success story.”