SMART PUP: Tingoora teenager K alila Vukelic is on a quest to raise money to train a dog who will alert her about on-coming seizures.
SMART PUP: Tingoora teenager K alila Vukelic is on a quest to raise money to train a dog who will alert her about on-coming seizures. Cian Sanders

Kalila's quest for a smart pup

KALILA Vukelic loves listening to music, swimming and animals like other 14-year-old girls.

However, she is on a quest to fund a smart pup who will help alert her when a seizure is coming.

Her parents Janine and Zenko Vukelic knew she was different when she showed no signs of talking at the age of two.

"We don't really think she has an intellectual disability. We think there's a regular 14-year-old girl inside that head who just can't communicate her needs and desires," Mrs Vukelic said.

"It's very frustrating for her."

Kalila was later diagnosed with Rett Syndrome, after years of a misdiagnosis of severe autism.

"It's best described as a combination of autism, Parkinsons and cerebral palsy," she said.

The genetic disorder means the Tingoora teenager is non-verbal, has limited control of parts of her body and is prone to regular seizures.

"Most of the girls never speak, Kalila has never spoken," Mrs Vukelic said.

Kalila attends Kingaroy State High School and enjoys the company of her peers.

"Even though she is incapable of playing with other children, she loves to be around other kids that are playing and having fun," she said.

"You can see she gets an awful lot out of it. She smiles and laughs a lot when other kids around her are laughing and playing."

The teenager enjoys listening to any type of music and loves to dance, even though it is becoming more difficult to stand as she mostly uses a wheel-chair.

"A lot of the Rett girls, even though they don't have an intellectual disability, love programs with music where it's constant sing and dance," she said.

"She really loves the Wiggles and she even loves Play School."

Kalila, who has enjoyed playing in water from a young age, also looks forward to her regular swims at the Nanango Hydrotherapy Pool.

As the Retts condition deteriorates over time, Kalila misses going for horse rides.

"It's becoming more and more difficult to both get her on a horse and for her to have the leg and core strength to remain on the horses," Mrs Vukelic said.

Kalila's disability has meant the Vukelic family have made many sacrifices over the years.

"It's something that you can't really imagine unless you've had a child with a severe disability. You can't make any plans, whether that's short or long term, as you don't know what her health is going to do on the day," she said.

Her parents have given up full-time professions to be Kalila's carers and her two older brothers did not receive as much attention growing up.

"She loves her older brothers and they love her very much, I don't think either of them hold a regret against her because they realise how challenging her life is," Mrs Vukelic said.

Kalila's family and her school are on a quest to raise the $20,000 required for a specially trained dog who will warn about seizures, comfort Kalila and assist with her mobility.

The community can join Kalila's quest for a smart pup by donating to her campaign. For more information see: How you can support Kalila's campaign

South Burnett

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