Four-year-old who was unresponsive for first six months of her life brings fighting spirit to child pageant circuit on Toddlers & Tiaras
20:54 GMT, 25 July 2012
A four-year-old girl who was born with a bizarre brain condition is the new star of the child pageant circuit.
Ava Young from Lakeland, Georgia, was basically unresponsive for the six months after she was prematurely born, unable to make eye contact and react to sights and sounds.
Doctors were unable to diagnose what was wrong with her but after suddenly snapping back to life one day, the child has never looked back. Tonight, she will appear in an episode of TLC's controversial hit series Toddlers & Tiaras.
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Born star: Ava Young, four, was unresponsive for the first six months after she was born. She has since become a star in the child pageant world, appearing on tonight's Toddlers & Tiaras episode
The child's mother, Ashley Young, told ABC: 'I was very worried about her. She didn't have the swallow reflex. She was eating, but it was like force feeding, like she didn't know how to take the bottle.'
Right before it was decided officially that Ava's condition was a genetic disorder, the then-baby suddenly 'woke up'.
'The best way to explain it is, she came alive,' her mother said. 'She didn't start to really live her life until later. And now, she is definitely making up for it. Everyone notices. She's an attention seeker.'
Recovery: Ava, pictured with her mother Ashley when she was an even smaller child, was unable to make eye contact or respond to light and sounds. She underwent a series of MRI and CT scans as well as other tests
During the early phase, Ava underwent
multiple MRI and CT scans, blood tests, light tests and air tests which
each offered no insight to doctors.
Babies Can't Wait, an interagency
service for children based in Georgia that assists those with developmental delays or
disabilities, was called in to help get to the bottom of Ava's
Tiny tot: The youngster has since gone on to win more than 100 pageant titles
At the six month mark, just as she was about to be flown to Augusta for further tests, her mother noticed a change.
'I was holding her and my mom looked
over my shoulder and said, “I think she's looking at you”,' she said.
'But I didn't want to get my hopes or her hopes up, so I said, “Mama,
please don't say that”.
'She began coming around and noticing and smiling. I called the pediatrician and said “Something's going on here”.'
Ava has won more than 100 child pageant titles across 11 states in the U.S. ever since her remarkable awakening.
Her mother thanks her local community for Ava's speedy road to recovery.
'We prayed all the time, the whole community,' she said. 'Everybody knew our story and was upset. A prayer circle got together and continued to pray. That's what helped her through it.'
But Dr Ari Brown, a pediatrician from Austin Texas, said that Ava might not be completely safe yet.
'Sometimes we do see more subtle things
and they can be important over time,' she told ABC. 'She might not be
totally out of the woods.'
She admitted that it is, of course, possible.
'I have seen kids who had kind of a
rocky start and end up achieving many more milestones than we would have
thought,' she said.
Toddlers & Tiaras air tonight on TLC at 9pm EST.