AUSTIN (Texas) — As one foot is placed in front of the other, you can see her excitement grow.
Slowly at first, and then with more confidence, the child’s eyes grow wide.
As she lifts her hand off the table, she gasps in exhilaration. Continuing her momentum forward, she pushes in short, quick strides until she reaches the couch. A scream of joy and a burst of laughter comes now.
These were six-year-old Love Johnson’s first steps without the assistance of a wheelchair, walker or braces.
Johnson, who lives in Austin, was diagnosed with cerebral palsy when she was four. It’s a motor disorder that affects a person’s ability to freely move and maintain balance.
“She decided to get up and try walking without her walker and braces,” Johnson’s mother, Lovely Johnson, wrote on Facebook. “My hero is not someone older than me, it’s my six-year-old princess.”
Johnson has become an overnight sensation since those first steps on Friday. Her video has garnered thousands of views and has been picked up by major national outlets.
“She normally uses a wheelchair and walker to get around. And this time she let it go with the wind,” Lovely Johnson said.
Johnson said doctors once told her that daughter would never be able to walk or talk. She said it’s important for parents to listen to their doctors, but also to never lose faith after an initial diagnosis.
KXAN cameras were rolling as Love Johnson took her very first steps with her new crutches on Tuesday, something Lovely Johnson said she’s never done before.
The Johnsons are proudly sharing these moments with the world. Lovely Johnson said she hopes the video will inspire other children with cerebral palsy.
“We’ve been getting a lot of parents reaching out because they also have kids with cerebral palsy, so they are asking for advice,” Lovely Johnson said. “I’m so amazed how many hearts my daughter touched. The love she is getting across the world is beautiful,” Johnson said.
Diagnosing cerebral palsy
Doctors stress it is important to diagnose Cerebral Palsy at an early age. Cerebral palsy is caused by abnormal development in the brain, or some type of damage to the brain as it develops.
The type of cerebral palsy is classified depending on the type of movement disorders a child experiences. Stiff muscles, uncontrollable movements, and poor balance and coordination can all be signs of the disorder.
Because the signs can vary greatly from case to case, doctors urge you watch for whether or not a child has reached movement milestones through infancy: How do they move their limbs? Can the child roll over? Do they crawl in a lopsided manner? These are all things you should be paying attention to.
If you are concerned, talk to your child’s doctor. They can help you set up further screening and testing.
Tonight on KXAN News at 9 and 10 p.m., Alex Caprariello will visit with Love Johnson to see what it was like taking those first steps and learn how the family plans to share this moment with others.