Ryan Senneff's parents are incredibly proud of him, and with good reason.
The 8-year-old from St. Louis, Missouri, has battled health issues for most of his life. He had gastrointestinal problems, two too-small kidneys and several other issues that landed him in the hospital time and time again. His body didn't absorb vitamins properly and every lab result was "scary," his mom Maura Senneff told "Good Morning America." And for a long while, Ryan, who also has Down syndrome, wasn't making much progress at all.
She knew something had to change.
And so after enlisting the help of experts in traditional Chinese medicine and Applied Behavior Analysis -- both with PhDs in their fields -- plus the medical doctors and the therapists who have been seeing Ryan his whole life, the little boy who until recently had a "significant" language deficits and a stutter, who had trouble completing seemingly simple physical tasks --began a "snowball effect" of progress.
His mom's recent video on Instagram showing him skipping, correcting his dad's form and finally, expressing his pride in his dad, is a snapshot of how far Ryan has come.
"The brain is malleable, it isn't fixed," Senneff said. "Everything started heading in the right direction when we began to change our strategy. More eye contact, speaking in longer sentences, he actually started running, he would never run before. Once he wasn't feeling like hell all the time, once his body was functioning more normally everything started clicking."
Senneff told "GMA" Ryan's "labs are now normal" and his white blood count, once low, is also in the normal range. His kidneys are the same size and growing normally. And he's on grade level academically - learning Spanish and doing fractions alongside his classmates.
She hopes the video shows people living with chronic illness that things can turnaround -- but it might mean changing the way you do things.
"We dropped the ball on mastering some bilateral coordination skills years ago bc the plateaus were endless while triaging acute illnesses," she wrote in her Instagram post. "Back to the drawing board- what we were doing was not working. So Ryan’s docs focused on coordination between body & brain + vision for motor planning the past few weeks. 2 weeks later he got the hang of a bunch of skills & mastered out of all his vision exercises. These bilateral skills using left & right sides of brain will help with writing, all sports & ball skills, tying shoes, confidence, social skills, language etc. Even late, it’s still progress. Sometimes the little victories are the biggest."
While his mom and dad are understandably proud of Ryan, he's clearly proud of them too,
"I'm going to cry for you dad," we hear Ryan say in the video to his dad, Jack Senneff. "I'm so proud of you dad," Ryan said as he puts his hands on his dad's shoulders.
But as sweet as the video is, Maura Senneff said it isn't about Ryan at all. "This is about showing what's possible and improving the outcome for other children with special needs. Never give up, it's never too late."