Other People's Words

Interview w/ Tanya and Nadia Bloom

Posted in Uncategorized by Tera on September 10, 2010

This is a transcript of Autism Women’s Network’s interview with Tanya Bloom and her 12-year-old daughter Nadia, who was lost for four days in a swampy region near her Florida home.

[Music]

Sharon daVanport: Good afternoon, and welcome to AWN radio. This is the Autism Women’s Network on Blogtalk. I am your host, Sharon daVanport, coming to you live from the Midwest in the United States. Today is Saturday, August 28, 2010. We have a great show planned for you today, with guest Tanya Bloom. Tanya is the mother to 12-year-old Nadia and many of you may remember from the national news coverage that about four months ago—I believe it was in April—Nadia got lost in a wooded area near her Florida home. Actually, she miraculously survived four days, and I believe it was four nights in a swampy region.

First I’d like to go over to the switchboard. I see that co-host Tricia Kenney is joining us now. Good afternoon, Trish.

Tricia Kenney: Hi. How are you?

Sharon daVanport: Pretty good. How are you doing?

Tricia Kenney: Pretty good, pretty good. I’m really, really looking forward to the show today.

Sharon daVanport: Yeah, I am, too. I see that we’ve got a couple listeners on the switchboard. I might have to ask you to help out over there, because I don’t wanna click the wrong thing. My screen is doing that little crazy thing again, and it’s flipping a little bit all around. Of course, we’ve got Mercury in retrograde, so that’s always wonderful. Right? [Laughter]

Tricia Kenney: Yeah, exactly. I just wanna mention today that our guest, Tanya Bloom, will be announcing our lucky winner of the GPS location device plus one year of service from LifePROTEKT during the show today. After Nadia got lost, Tanya actually became a spokesperson for Lou Giuffre’s LifePROTEKT, and in fact, Nadia does wear the GPS locator during various outings. Tanya’s gonna tell us a little bit more about that later in the show as well.

Also, if you want to be entered into the monthly drawing for LifePROTEKT’s GPS location device, please just send us your information along with your story as to why you need the device to info AT autismwomensnetwork DOT org. We will keep your name on file and put you in for the drawing.

Sharon daVanport: Very good. We are getting some really touching stories coming through.

Tricia Kenney: Oh, I know.

Sharon daVanport: I think this has been our busiest week for stories, and it’s been a busy week all around. It’s been an awesome week for me, Tricia. How about you?

Tricia Kenney: Very busy. I can’t even believe it’s already Saturday again.

Sharon daVanport: I know, and my kids started school a week and a half ago. They’ve actually had one complete, full week of regular hours. The first few days of school, they didn’t have regular hours. It’s been a pretty good week. Just had a really great week all the way around, and happy that the weekend’s here.

So I guess we should bring Tanya on, then. I wanna hop on over to the switchboard here, and hopefully I will do this right. I am hoping that I’m gonna do this correctly. Hello, Tanya?

Tanya Bloom: Hello.

Tricia Kenney: Hi, Tanya.

Sharon daVanport: Hi. Welcome to AWN radio.

Tanya Bloom: Thank you. It’s good to be on your show.

Sharon daVanport: Wow. Thank you for being with us today. I did get your message. I know you said that Nadia [unknown] wanna speak a little bit, and if she does, that’s fine. If not, that’s fine, too.

Tanya Bloom: [Unknown] [listening?]

Sharon daVanport: Oh, she is? Okay. Did you want to go ahead, then, since she’s right there with you, and go ahead and have her say hello first? Or is she okay just being a part of the show for a little bit?

Tricia Kenney: I think she’s okay [unknown]. Sure.

Sharon daVanport: Okay. All right, that’s good. Well, is she on a different line than you or a different phone?

Tanya Bloom: We’re right here together.

Sharon daVanport: Oh, good. Okay. That’s good. Before we do get into the story, I did wanna give our listeners a little bit of a background. If you could maybe tell our listeners a little bit about Nadia. She is diagnosed on the autism spectrum, and maybe about what age she was diagnosed, if you could let us know.

Tanya Bloom: A little before she was three, we started to notice that she was very, very advanced verbally and was reading, but socially she was not always doing things appropriately. So we had taken her in for an evaluation, mainly because she couldn’t jump at the time. That’s kind of [why?] we started the journey of learning about Asperger and all the different spectrum disorders.

It was probably around four and a half when she was given the label PDD-NOS, which is Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Not Otherwise Specified. At the time, they weren’t quite sure where to stick her, because she was still pretty young. So as she grew older, she started more looking like the Asperger’s.

Tricia Kenney: That’s very interesting that you said you took her in because she couldn’t jump. I don’t think I’ve heard that one before. What exactly do you mean [by] “she couldn’t jump”?

Tanya Bloom: She could do all the motions, but she couldn’t quite get her feet off the ground. Her gross motor skills were a little delayed, and my mom was like: “She really should be jumping about now.” So we went in to the occupational therapy evaluation. During the course of it, she’s out there reading “naturally and artificially flavored” on this gummi bear label, and the lady’s like: “Okay!”

[Laughter]

So it just started this whole ball rolling. When she was younger, instead of addressing someone she knew as “Mrs. So-and-So,” she would call them…if they’re wearing a blue shirt: “Hello, Mrs. [Blue?]” Just little things that were a little different, and we weren’t quite sure.

It was hard, because she spoke a lot earlier than her playmates in her playgroup, and she read before she was two. So she would always gravitate to the adults, because her little friends weren’t speaking yet. So we didn’t think a whole lot about it, because it seemed more: “Well, I would want to talk to someone who could talk back to me.” So it was really a learning journey. We weren’t familiar with anything. When she [was] getting closer to three, it became more apparent that some things were a little different.

Tricia Kenney: Okay. So what sort of therapies or treatments did you seek out at that point?

Tanya Bloom: Well, Nadia continued with occupational therapy for many years. Eventually we did some physical therapy as well, to strengthen her gross motor skills. She’s done therapeutic horseback riding, through an organization called Freedom Ride, which is hippotherapy.

She has done social skills groups when she was in elementary school, where she would go in with other children and they would present them different kinds of challenges. Perhaps they would put together a puzzle but not have all the pieces there, or not let them finish a game. You know, creating conflict so they could learn to work through it, and how to socially appropriately respond when things weren’t going their way.

As she got older, she graduated from the group. She knew what to do; she just needed to practice what to do. So she was in a group of children who were practicing how to get along, and they did a lot of fun projects. She did some drama, which really wasn’t a therapy per se—it was for everybody—but it was in a way therapeutic as well for her, too.

Sharon daVanport: That’s very interesting. You said she does hippotherapy?

Tanya Bloom: Yes.

Sharon daVanport: And that’s riding, you said?

Tanya Bloom: Yes. Actually, she does therapeutic horseback riding. They offer hippotherapy, too. She [hasn’t?] done that. It’s really neat. Lots of times the horse seems to have the same personality as the child, and so they really have to learn to work with someone else. The horse isn’t gonna do what they don’t wanna do, either, so it’s been really good. She’s become quite a good little horse rider over the years.

Tricia Kenney: That’s great. What about schooling then? Is she in mainstream classes now?

Tanya Bloom: Yeah. She just started middle school, and she’s in mainstream classes. She’s going to a magnet school this year, so middle school is a new theme for both of us to experience. But so far she’s enjoying her teachers and her classes.

Tricia Kenney: Does she have to switch classes for every subject?

Tanya Bloom: She does; she does.

Tricia Kenney: Yeah. That’s a big change, I know. [Laughter]

Tanya Bloom: Yeah. She’s used to having one teacher for everything, and so this has been a big adjustment.

Tricia Kenney: Is she in advanced courses at all?

Tanya Bloom: Yes. She’s in what they call the pre-IB program. It’s an International Bacchalauriate program, so all the classes are advanced. Her science class, also, is a Gifted and Talented class, so all her academics are advanced classes.

Tricia Kenney: Wow. That’s really great. Does she have any idea what sort of career she wants when she gets older?

Tanya Bloom: I think she likes marine biology, so maybe something along those lines. But it changes every couple years. [Laughter] That’s what she likes right now. She’s very knowledgable about animals and loves the sea.

Sharon daVanport: Okay. What is the focus of her magnet school?

Tanya Bloom: It’s a performing arts, creative school.

Nadia Bloom: [unintelligible]

Tanya Bloom: Nadia said she doesn’t like the dancing part of it, but it’s not just dancing and music. She’s just a really good writer, and they have drama there and some other things that she’ll enjoy.

Tricia Kenney: That is really fun.

Sharon daVanport: Nice. Can you put Nadia on, and we can ask her a couple questions about school, too?

Tanya Bloom: Sure. One moment.

Nadia Bloom: Thanks. Hi.

Sharon daVanport: Hi, Nadia. My name is Sharon. How are you?

Nadia Bloom: I’m okay.

Sharon daVanport: Good. Well, thank you for speaking with us today on AWN radio. I’ve just gotten to know your mom a little bit over the last couple of months. She’s told me so much about you and how good you do in school and how much you like to ride your bike and take pictures and things. What were you saying to your mom? I heard you in the background. You said something about you like your school, but you don’t like the dancing part of it? Do you have to dance sometimes?

Nadia Bloom: Well, I don’t really like that the focus is fine arts, because I think that especially performing arts is too girly and too flighty.

[Laughter]

Sharon daVanport: Too girly and too… [Laughter] So you don’t like that part of it, right? What would you prefer to do, Nadia, if you had a choice?

Nadia Bloom: Well, science-based stuff.

Sharon daVanport: Science, really?

Nadia Bloom: Yeah.

Sharon daVanport: What is your favorite part of science? What kinds of sciences do you like, Nadia?

Nadia Bloom: I like astronomy and I also like all animal sciences. Anything in the biology branch. I also like computers and stuff.

Sharon daVanport: Computers? Really?

Nadia Bloom: Yeah.

Tricia Kenney: So you’re not really into doing your hair and makeup and nails and stuff?

Nadia Bloom: Not at all.

[Laughter]

Sharon daVanport: That’s okay, Nadia. I wasn’t at your age, either. That came much later for me. I totally understand that. You say you like animals. What are your favorite animals, Nadia?

Nadia Bloom: I have a lot of favorites. I like sea turtles and giant squids; [unknown], if you know what that is. I like boa constrictors, chameleons. I like giraffes, zebras.

Sharon daVanport: Do you study about these animals, when you like them?

Nadia Bloom: Yep. Yeah, usually a random animal I don’t know much about, I Google it, and I get as much information as I can on it.

Sharon daVanport: Very nice. And I wanna ask you about a couple of these animals. I’m really interested in this. Now, you said “boa constrictors.”

Nadia Bloom: Yeah.

Sharon daVanport: I haven’t heard too many 12-year-old girls saying they like boa constrictors; this is fascinating to me.

Nadia Bloom: Also, I like spiders. I like spiders, snakes and basically all animals. Mosquitoes are the only exception.

[Laughter]

Sharon daVanport: Oh, they’re the only exception. [Laughter] I don’t like mosquitoes either, Nadia. Now, tell me about boa constrictors. Can you tell me a little bit about what you’ve researched about boa constrictors? That’s interesting to me.

Nadia Bloom: Boa constrictors can sense prey because they can sense body heat, and usually, the [unknown] tree boa needs to only eat in about 20 days.

Sharon daVanport: Wow. It sounds like they probably eat pretty big meals, to keep them full for that long.

Nadia Bloom: Yeah. They eat bats and monkeys.

Sharon daVanport: Ew. [Laughter]

Tricia Kenney: Oh, gosh. And monkeys?

Sharon daVanport: What do you think about that, Tricia?

Tricia Kenney: Ugh. Well, I have two children myself, and we watch a lot of Animal Planet and Discovery Channel, so I get to see a lot of that stuff up close and personal. [Laughter]

Sharon daVanport: Nadia, we wanted to ask you a little bit about when you went on…I don’t even wanna call it an adventure, but when you got lost back in April. I wanted to ask you a couple questions about how that happened. Were you out taking pictures? Is that correct? You were taking pictures when you got lost?

Nadia Bloom: Yeah.

Sharon daVanport: Okay. And how many days was it that you were lost?

Nadia Bloom: Four.

Sharon daVanport: Four days, wow. When that happened, Nadia, were you able to find any water? Anything to eat?

Nadia Bloom: Actually, yes. [unknown] a water hyacinth is an edible water plant. It has a spongy interior, which allows it to absorb water. You can actually get water from eating it.

Tricia Kenney: Wow.

Sharon daVanport: And so you saw one of those, huh?

Nadia Bloom: Yeah. Water hyacinths are an invasive species.

Tricia Kenney: How did you know about that?

Nadia Bloom: I just read a lot of nature stuff. [Laughter]

Tricia Kenney: Wow.

Sharon daVanport: That’s amazing, Nadia. That really came in handy. When you got lost, you knew what plant to get water from. That is absolutely amazing.

Nadia Bloom: Yeah.

Sharon daVanport: Were you able to eat anything at all?

Nadia Bloom: Just that water hyacinth. That was only on day one and day two, though.

Sharon daVanport: On day one and day two?

Nadia Bloom: Um-hm.

Sharon daVanport: Right. Did you see any animals that scared you, or were you pretty okay with the animals that were around?

Nadia Bloom: [Unknown] Remember, I’m not afraid of any animals, but the only thing I’m afraid of are…I have a couple fears. The first one is extreme dirt. The second one is death. Another one is the end of the world. Another one is that our moon will smash into the Earth. Another one is [an] Ice Age.

Tricia Kenney: Wow.

Nadia Bloom: Those are pretty extreme and probably will never happen, but I’m still a little scared that they will.

Sharon daVanport: I don’t know about you, Tricia, but I know, Nadia, that I felt a little bit of those fears when I was your age. I had some of those thoughts about things like that happening, so I can relate to that, to a certain extent. I understand that. You didn’t really have any fear of any of the animals out there in the woods that you saw?

Nadia Bloom: Right.

Sharon daVanport: That’s good. At least you weren’t frightened in that way. You said dirt, is that correct? You said you don’t like dirt?

Nadia Bloom: I don’t really like dirt.

Sharon daVanport: That’s probably pretty tough, then, being out in the woods where it’s all pretty dirty for four days. Where did you sleep, hon, when you were out there?

Nadia Bloom: On undergrowth and logs.

Sharon daVanport: Logs. Wow. That seems like it must’ve been quite a time. Everybody’s so happy to hear…Nadia, I’ve never met you and I’ve only visited with your mother a few times over the last couple months. But I tell you what: when I first heard the story, my friend Tricia who’s on the radio with us today, too—she’s the co-host here—we were talking about it. We didn’t even know you; I had never talked to your mother at that point. We were so worried, and we’re just so happy that you’re okay. It’s just so amazing that you knew. I’m just so amazed, aren’t you, Tricia?, about the water hyacinth. That you knew exactly what plant to get water from. It’s amazing. [Laughter]

Tricia Kenney: I know. It’s really just miraculous that you had this knowledge beforehand. So many people in that same situation would’ve just gone without and had to wait to be rescued. When you did go missing, Nadia, we were working very hard putting your name out there. Again, we didn’t know your family or your mother at the time, and we were putting your name out there, along with thousands of other people on the Internet, telling people to keep an eye out for you. So many people wanted to join in the search for you. It was really quite amazing how many people cared and wanted to help. I don’t know if you saw any of the news about it or read anything about it, but it was just unreal how many people were out there so concerned for you.

Nadia Bloom: Thank you, ma’am. Would you like to hear about some of my hobbies and interests?

Tricia Kenney: We’d love to.

Sharon daVanport: [Unknown] We sure do. Why don’t you tell us all about it, Nadia? Tell us anything you want about your hobbies and interests.

Nadia Bloom: Well, my main interests, as you know, are science. I’ve created my own website—actually, two websites.

Sharon daVanport: Wow.

Nadia Bloom: And I like to create PowerPoints, and I also like to read.

Sharon daVanport: What are some of your PowerPoints, Nadia?

Nadia Bloom: I made one called “One Bad Egg.” It’s really funny; it’s about a chicken—a 15-foot chicken that turns evil.

[Laughter]

Sharon daVanport: Oh, I would like to read that sometime. I’m gonna have to ask your mother if…I’ll have to call, and you’ll have to read that to me sometime, okay?

Nadia Bloom: Okay. I also like YouTube. My favorite is Midnight Orange and Up Butt Coconut.

[Laughter]

Sharon daVanport: Awesome silly sense of humor. I like that! That’s great. So you’re a YouTuber, you like YouTube. You like to create PowerPoints, and you have two websites. Now, what are your websites about?

Nadia Bloom: One’s about weird facts and the other one’s a website that has games. It also has this thing with these Mad Libs. I also like Scanopedia, which is a special scanner that looks a little bit like this thing on The Future is Wild. If you don’t know what that is, I promise not to tell you, because I’m obsessed. [Laughter] And there are these figurines that look like animals.

Sharon daVanport: Okay. Now, when you say that you have a website that’s also about weird facts, can you tell us some of the weird facts that you’re posting on your website? [Unknown] about these weird facts?

Nadia Bloom: Okay. In Japan, you can buy a watermelon shaped like a pyramid.

Tricia Kenney: Oh, yeah. Yeah, I saw that. That is pretty cool.

Sharon daVanport: Oh, [I?] saw that on the Internet. That’s pretty interesting, yes.

Nadia Bloom: Yeah. And an ankylosaurus filled its bony plates with blood; it could’ve blushed pink.

Sharon daVanport: Now, say that again?

Nadia Bloom: Have you heard of an ankylosaurus? The dinosaur with the spikes?

Tricia Kenney: Oh, okay.

Sharon daVanport: Oh, okay. No, I didn’t know that, but okay.

Nadia Bloom: When it filled its bony plates with blood, it could’ve blushed pink. [Laughter]

Sharon daVanport: Oh, okay.

Tricia Kenney: Oh, wow.

Sharon daVanport: Wow. That is interesting.

Nadia Bloom: Gallileo said that Saturn’s rings were actually ears, and in World War II, for good luck, Americans ran over cowplops with army tanks. So the British got an idea, so they hid bombs in the cowplops. [Laughter]

Sharon daVanport: Oh, no.

Tricia Kenney: [Laughter]

Sharon daVanport: Wow. So that’s strategy—hiding explosives in that, right? Oh, my. Wow. You’ve got a lot of facts. Now, do you research these facts and you post them on your website? Is that what you do?

Nadia Bloom: Uh-huh.

Sharon daVanport: Very good. Well, Nadia, this is just very interesting. Tricia asked your mother earlier, and I’d like for you to tell us, what are some of the ideas that you have about what you would like to do when you’re an adult? When you graduate from school? What are some of the things you’d like to do with yourself? [Unknown] for you?

Nadia Bloom: I don’t know.

Sharon daVanport: Where do you wanna work? What do you wanna do for your career? Do you have any ideas?

Nadia Bloom: I’ve never thought much about that, and I don’t really have very many ideas.

Sharon daVanport: Really? You wanna be a scientist or—?

Nadia Bloom: I might wanna be a scientist, but I don’t really know, because I haven’t grown up yet.

Tricia Kenney: [Laughter]

Sharon daVanport: That’s right.

Tricia Kenney: Well, you have some time yet. Yeah.

Sharon daVanport: Yeah. That’s an awesome answer. I like that. Well, you’re just a delight. You have so many facts and you know so many things. It’s just wonderful speaking with you, Nadia. Is there anything you’d like to share with our listeners here on the radio show? Anything else that you’d like to talk about? About your school, about friends? Anything else you’d like to talk about?

Nadia Bloom: I have a couple more interests.

Sharon daVanport: You do? What are they?

Nadia Bloom: I like Hex Bugs, which are these [unknown] robotic bugs. They actually move like real bugs, and you can see through them, so you can see the [unknown], like in the wire.

Sharon daVanport: Oh. Well, that sounds awesome.

Nadia Bloom: I’m getting a new one today. And the Zhu-Zhu Pets, which are these robotic hamsters that make realistic sounds. They’re awesome. You have got to love them.

[Laughter]

Sharon daVanport: Oh, wow.

Nadia Bloom: On TV, I watch Phineas and Ferb, The Future is Wild and Tutenstein.

Tricia Kenney: Are you ever tempted to take them apart and rebuild them?

Nadia Bloom: Well, not really.

Sharon daVanport: Trish, who just asked you that, Nadia—she asked if you liked to take things apart. You know what Tricia did the other day? She called me and she said: “Sharon, you know what I’m doing? My children’s PlayStation broke and I’ve taken it completely apart.” And then she called me a couple hours later. She says: “It’s fixed now!” She actually fixed it. Can you fix things like that, too, Nadia? Are you able to take mechanical things apart or anything apart and put it back together?

Nadia Bloom: Not really.

Sharon daVanport: Not really? You don’t like to do that? We’ll leave that to Tricia then, right? We’ll just let her do that. [Laughter]

Nadia Bloom: I might—

Tanya Bloom: [Unknown], but for now…

[Laughter]

Sharon daVanport: Well, you have an interest in photography. Is that correct? You like to take pictures?

Nadia Bloom: Yeah. [My mom?] takes pictures too, but she takes pictures of things like rotten strawberries and other weird stuff. She has this video game where you can design other video games, and [there’s this thing?] about taking pictures. You have to take a picture so then it falls from the sky and [unknown] a turd. [Laughter]

Sharon daVanport: Oh, my goodness, Nadia. [Laughter] What do you like to take pictures of? What are your interests when you take pictures?

Nadia Bloom: [Flowers?] and plants. I also like water spiders. I have a picture of [unknown] [awesome?]

Sharon daVanport: Okay, that’s interesting. So you like a lot of nature things. You like to take a lot of photos of nature or flowers and spiders. That’s really interesting. Just a delight, Nadia. This has been so nice speaking with you. Do you have a big day planned today? After the radio show, are you guys gonna go do anything?

Nadia Bloom: We’re gonna get a new Hex Bug.

Sharon daVanport: Hex Bug. That’s right. [Laughter] Wow. It’s been great talking to you, Nadia. I wanna thank you for coming on the radio show and talking to our listeners, and letting them know your interests and sharing a little bit about the story back in April. I really appreciate that.

Nadia Bloom: Thanks.

Sharon daVanport: All right.

Tricia Kenney: Well, it was really nice talking with you, Nadia. Thank you for being with us.

Nadia Bloom: Aloha. [Laughter]

Sharon daVanport: Okay. Bye-bye.

Nadia Bloom: Bye-bye.

[Nadia hangs up. She and her motther laugh in the background].

Sharon daVanport: Aw, she’s so sweet.

Tricia Kenney: I know.

Sharon daVanport: She’s just wonderful. I’m so glad she wanted to come on and say hi. It was touch-and-go for a while, right up until the last minute.

Tricia Kenney: I know. She’s so smart! God!

Sharon daVanport: Are you with us, Tanya?

Tanya Bloom: Yes, I’m still here.

Tricia Kenney: Welcome back, Mom.

Sharon daVanport: Wow. You should be so proud. She’s just wonderful, Tanya. Everything that you’ve described…and we’ve had the pleasure of visiting with you a few times on the phone over the last couple months. I tell you, she’s everything and more, the way you described. She’s just absolutely amazing. She really is amazing.

Tanya Bloom: Thank you..

Sharon daVanport: And so blessed. We were telling Nadia (and I shared this with you before when I first met you) that so many people were just so worried. It just really touched everyone when Nadia was missing. When we told her that, she got really quiet, but she was really sweet. When Tricia said that, she said: “Well, thank you, ma’am.” She’s so polite [Laughter] but sweet. Yeah.

I wanted to ask you, Tanya, getting back to when Nadia was lost. You had mentioned to me that you were really surprised to observe throughout the media outlets that there was a lot of inaccurate information out there about her getting lost—little stories. You may expect information on the Internet and blogs to be inaccurate about people claiming different things, and claiming to know you, but you don’t really expect it on different news sources. Are you pretty comfortable, now that it’s all settled, that you have the information out there correctly? Is it you feel better about things now?

Tanya Bloom: The things that mattered. There’s a lot of things that you just have to let go. [Laughter] But for the most part, yes, I’d say we’ve got it clear.

Tricia Kenney: I wanted to talk about what you were going through as a mom when she went missing. I know you were just absolutely terrified, but you also had a new addition to the family at the time. I don’t think a lot of people knew that. Not only were you worried about Nadia, but you had a brand new baby to tend to at home, as well.

Tanya Bloom: That’s right. She was three weeks old, and it was incredibly difficult. We were already having a hard time getting her weight that she needed to gain. During those four days, I was just really blessed to have our group and this community surround me and just mother me and take care of me. It was really tough trying to worry about Nadia and doing everything to bring her back, but also trying to stay as calm as I could—feed the baby.

It was an incredibly emotional time that I would wish on no one. In a way it was good to have the baby, too, though, because it did force me to have to eat when I had no desire to eat. It would divert your mind, having to take care of another child, and then Sophia was gone till Sunday afternoon. So having Sophia come back as well was good, because I was trying so hard to keep things as normal as possible for her. We were just so thankful that we were able to complete our family once again when Nadia was found, and have everybody home again.

Sharon daVanport: Wow.

Tricia Kenney: About how many people were out there trying to find Nadia? Do you have any idea?

Tanya Bloom: Well, [unknown] professional search and rescuers, it really was about 150 they had. They had every dog, I believe, in the state of Florida here looking for her. And our community, I would say you could add another couple hundred people [laughter] looking for her.

[Unknown] not allow non-professional search and rescue workers into the area that she was, but that wooded area opens up to an area called the Black Hammock thta [unknown] up to a road, and so there were people out there. There was all kinds of nature trails near our home, and people were just out everywhewre looking for her and posting flyers. So I would say altogether, there’s probably several hundred. I think their hotline filled up with people within the first hour, the maximum that they could take. It was just [an] overwhelming response of the community here. They were amazing.

Sharon daVanport: Wow.

Tricia Kenney: So were you getting calls like crazy? Was your phone ringing off the hook the whole time?

Tanya Bloom: Oh, yeah. We had people living in our house, and a lot of people were answering the phone. And as the days progressed, it became more strangers calling me from out of state, saying: “I wanna come down and help.” Then it became heavy with the media, trying to contact. So I was just really fortunate to have people taking messages, and if I could call back people that I knew, then I would. But it was amazing. There was people I hadn’t talked to in years [laughter] that I heard from. We had people praying all over the world for her. It was just amazing.

Sharon daVanport: Now, had Nadia ever gotten lost prior to this past April?

Tanya Bloom: No. She’s never done this before, and I think the bottom line was, it was our Spring Break. The kids were home and it had been pretty dull for them, because Victoria was a baby and I couldn’t really get them out to do a whole lot. Her sister had just left for a camping trip with her dad to the Everglades, which is about four, four and a half hours’ drive frome where we live. So she had been playing all morning, helping me with the baby and talking with me, and trying to [find a couple?] friends to go out and play with. Nobody was home, because it was Spring Break. So she just went for a bike ride, and unbeknownst to me, decided to take her camera and go into the woods.

Sharon daVanport: Oh, wow.

Tanya Bloom: I was just guessing about what she had. I knew she had a backpack—that she mentioned she was taking her backpack with her. But I was just guessing she had her camera, ’cause she’d been playing with it that morning. Sophia had lost hers for her camping trip, and Nadia was like: “Oh, you can borrow mine.” And I was like: “No, Sophia, you need to find your camera,” because Nadia’s camera’s a little more expensive than what Sophia has, and Sophia’s notorious for losing things. So I just thought: “You need to find your own camera.” So I was just guessing what she had in her backpack, and it turned out I was right: that she had gone on a little nature walk and took some pictures, and before she knew it, didn’t know how to get back out.

Tricia and Sharon: Wow.

Tricia Kenney: So how long was it before you got really, really scared and decided to call the police?

Tanya Bloom: It was about 30 minutes before I realized. We have a very small neighborhood. We live in a gated community, and it only has three streets. One of them is this cul-de-sac that’s made of this retention pond that leads into this conservation area. All the kids go back there, and my kids know they’re not supposed to go back there. But a kid being a kid, Nadia really wanted to explore, so she had parked her bike down there. After about 30 minutes, she was supposed to be circling our block. I stepped out to see if I could find her.

In the midst of it, a neighbor came by to see the baby and everything, so I tried to get the baby into the stroller to go look for her because she hadn’t circled around. The baby wanted nothing to do with that. So we got in the car and I drove down to the cul-de-sac and I saw her bike parked there with the helmet put on the handlebars, and I just felt panic because I didn’t see her anywhere.

There’s these two ponds, so the baby and I got out, and I was just walking around the pond calling her name and growing more panicked. The baby started getting upset. Luckily, a neighbor was home and heard me calling and came out and held the baby. Her husband and another gentleman said: “Oh, there’s these trails back there,” which I never knew. We had never gone back there.

So we went in. Unfortunately, we went in the wrong way that she had gone in. As soon as I was back there, I thought: “She didn’t go this way. It’s all muddy, it’s all dirty and it’s all scuzzy.” And so within an hour of her being gone, 911 had been called. By the time I had gotten down there, about an hour had passed. So she really hadn’t gone that far. It was just so dense [that?] she couldn’t hear anybody calling her.

Tricia and Sharon: Oh.

Tricia Kenney: Were you worried about the animal life back there, too?

Tanya Bloom: There is an alligator sometimes in one of those ponds. It’s…[Unknown] conservation backs up to Lake Jessup, which is one of the most highly populated alligator lakes in the world. The initial thought was, there were no signs that she had been near the water. As the search continued the next day, when the crew’d come back out, I’d say: “What kind of animals did you see back there?” and they would say: “Oh, a deer.” And I was like: “Oh, I can live with a deer. That’s good.”

[Laughter]

“They’re gonna tell me if they see something bad,” you know?

Sharon daVanport: They’re not gonna panic you, Tanya.

Tanya Bloom: Right. There was a water moccasin, and everything else [she] saw were birds and lizards and bugs.

Tricia Kenney: It’s really fortunate that she has this knowledge of animal life. I think that probably helped her out quite a bit, too. I think if I went back there, I wouldn’t know what to do. [Laughter]

Tanya Bloom: We looked up what that plant was later on, but she actually saw a little beetle, she said, eating the plant. So she figured it was edible, and that’s how she made that decision that she could try that plant. She said it tasted kind of like salad. [Laughter]

Tricia Kenney: Oh, wow.

Sharon daVanport: Good girl.

Tricia Kenney: She was just so smart.

Tanya Bloom: She really was. When we had her write her story, she said she was following in the Big Dipper, the North Star. I asked my husband: “Which way was she headed?” And he said she was headed…it was north-east she’d gone. I was like: “Oh, my goodness! She was using the knowledge that she had.” She didn’t know how to use it to get out, but she was.

During this time, this professor who hasn’t worked with Nadia at the CARD center, but has known her and has tested her, she called and she said: “You know, she would know that the moss grows on”—I don’t know if it’s the east or the west side—”from Harriet Tubman.” [Unknown] and I said: “Maybe she would remember this.” [And she said: “Do you think she would know] how to use that knowledge to get out?” And I said: “Well, probably not.” But when I found out she was using her knowledge to go North, I thought: “It’s so important when these children on the spectrum do get lost, that somehow their caregivers and the medical professionals who know these children really have some input in it.”

They’re searching for Nadia as if she’s a typical child.” They were going towards the totally opposite way, where there was orange groves and horses. All the kids in our neighborhood said: “Oh, has she been there? Has she been there?” because they had all done this themselves. And you get a child who’s not thinking inside the box, and she’s going somewhere else. So this really impressed on me how important it is to have those kind of professionals involved with giving information to search crews in the future, too.

Tricia Kenney: It is.

Sharon daVanport: Right. Because when you spoke with her, Nadia did indeed end up utilizing what she had known and was trying to work with that. So she was doing exactly what the professionals who knew her said she would be doing. That’s amazing. It’s really amazing.

I don’t know about you guys, but I think it’s a really good time for us to announce our winner for this month’s GPS locator. I know, Tanya, you were going to let everyone know who the August winner is.

Tanya Bloom: Tim Welsh.

Sharon daVanport: Tim Welsh. [Laughter] We drew a name last night. We have so many, and we want everyone to know, too, that Tim is known over on Twitter as TannersDad. He entered the contest this month, and his name was drawn this month. Tricia, did you wanna let everyone know how we plan the contest if their name isn’t drawn?

Tricia Kenney: Right. We do keep your name on file for a year, so you don’t have to enter more than once. Once your name is in, you’re in for every month’s drawing. We pick at the end of the month, and one device plus one year of service is given to that family. So Tanner will be getting a device which will stay on him, and hopefully that’ll bring a little bit of peace of mind to his family. I know they’re out in a rural area and they do have that worry. They do have the problem with him leaving. I don’t know if you have the story on hand, Sharon, that you would wanna share?

Sharon daVanport: I do. I wanted also, too, to ask you, Tanya: You use the LifePROTEKT. You started using that after Nadia went missing in April, and she wears the watch sometimes. You said that you actually tested it out. Will you tell us a little bit about that—about the accuracy? You were surprised. You tested it out.

Tanya Bloom: Yeah. Lou Giuffre from LifePROTEKT sent us the lok8u device, and the first time I tried it, the girls were out weeding. Our house, especially our back side, is full of windows and I thought: “I can see where she’s at.” But this was fresh after everything happened. I was a little nervous about her being outside, and so I didn’t think it was gonna track very well, because she was just pulling weeds in the front and back yard, and coming in the house. But it tracked everywhere she went. It was just amazing. I was very, very impressed with how well it knew where she was. It’s definitely gonna be a good comfort for the Welsh family, to know where Tanner is.

Sharon daVanport: Right.

Tricia Kenney: This helps so many families. We are so grateful to Lou Giuffre and LifePROTEKT for letting us go ahead and do this for families every month. It’s such a blessing to them. As you know, there’s nothing scarier in the world than when your child is missing. And when there are complications that go along with it, such as if your child is non-verbal or if they don’t respond to their name, it really complicates things.

Sharon daVanport: And that’s kind of Tanner’s story. I’ve got it here; I pulled it up. This is the [injury?] story. And I’m so glad that we don’t go by the stories, that we actually put everybody’s name in a basket. My daughter is actually the one who draws names. She’ll draw the names for contests, so I’m so glad we don’t. Because it’s so hard. Every story is so touching and is just so meaningful. Tim wrote in, and this is Tanner’s story. He says:

“Tanner will be 13 this year. He is on a very healthy diet and growing big and strong. The nightmare of elopement continues. We actually had a fundraiser last Saturday night that was amazing. We are in the process of trying to decide which system to choose. If we win this month’s drawing, some of the monies raised could go for more of his therapy needs and other systems to help caretakers.

“My story is one repeated over and over. Tanner spoke his last words eight years ago: ‘My name is Tanner. My name is Tanner,’ and then spiraled into deep autism [sleep?] He has profound deficits: unable to feed himself, chew, use the restroom, or understand the dangers of the highway, lake, creek, and woods nearby. I had two heart attacks at 38. We’re struggling to start a business. I’ve lost multiple jobs due to the economy. It seems just in the last 30 days some prayers are being answered: new job and health insurance, which actually adds some concerns because I’m no longer in the role of primary caregiver.”

He goes on to say that he would be very appreciative if he did win and that he was very appreciative to have this opportunity. He says: “God bless your organization. Tanner’s Dad, Tim Welsh.” So I just appreciate Tim entering the contest, and am just happy that he won. Like you said, Tanya, it’s gonna bring some peace of mind. I know that you said it does for you guys when you have Nadia wear it.

Tanya Bloom: Definitely. Definitely.

Tricia Kenney: Had you ever had any experience like this before—when she was a toddler, even, or anything like that?

Tanya Bloom: The only thing she really did is, if Nadia doesn’t like something, she’ll try to avoid it. In Kindergarten, her class had divided into their specials, and there was one line that went to PE (which she didn’t like), and one line that went to the media center. She loves to read, and so my question always was: “Is she smart enough to figure out: ‘They’re going to the library. That’s where I’m going!’ Or was she just not paying attention to which line to get into?”

But she doesn’t really wander off like that. It’s usually intentional, to avoid something. But that would be the extent of it. It’s scary, because you have to watch your children. For somebody who, like you said, can’t communicate…I’m just so thankful that his family won. That is amazing. I’m so thankful for their family.

Sharon daVanport: Right.

Tricia Kenney: Yeah, they are, too. They are, too. And there are so many more out there that are needing a location device like this. It’s not a hugely expensive device to get, but with the economy being the way it is, it’s really out of reach for so many, and it’s so needed. I know that Lou Giuffre is part of a group that are trying to get insurance coverage for these devices for families. It really is a necessity for them. The safety of their children really depends on it.

And it’s not just children, either. It’s adults and teenagers and the whole gamut. It also works with Alzheimer’s patients and things like that. It’s really amazing that we have this technology today. We really need it. So we’re really grateful that Lou Giuffre is stepping up to the plate and helping families out.

Sharon daVanport: And as he always says, too, it’s no substitute for being a parent and watching your child. But it’s a backup, because no matter what you do, sometimes things like this happen. And you know that all too well, don’t you, Tanya? Look what happened.

Tanya Bloom: Oh, yeah. And Nadia’s accused me of watching her like a hawk. [Unknown]

[Laughter]

Sharon daVanport: Yeah. My kids say the same thing.

Tanya Bloom: You want them to be able to grow up. You give them a little bit of freedom, and you just do the best you can. Like you said, having that device as a backup for the moment that you thought was okay, that’s just really…And I have to say, Lou Giuffre has just been so wonderful with what he does, with the raising awareness in the community and providing these devices. I just wish him well and wish…If they can get insurance for some of the expenses, that would be wonderful. But this is amazing, his heart for these children. I think it’s wonderful.

Tricia Kenney: Yeah.

Sharon daVanport: Right.

Tricia Kenney: So can you share with us a little bit about when you found out that they found Nadia? How did you hear about it?

Tanya Bloom: Oh, my goodness! That morning, our school had contacted us wanting another…They had a prayer vigil, but because of Spring Break, a lot of families hadn’t heard about it and weren’t feeling that they needed that. So we were on the phone, trying to coordinate this prayer vigil that evening they found her, and it was the morning. I keep seeing this James King, which is the man who [would?] find her, [his] number come across my phone.

By this time, all these media people were calling in, so I just wasn’t answering it, because I was talking to our pastor. Then about 30 minutes later, [they had someone?] come out to our house: “Do you know James King?” I’m like: “No.” But they never told us they had found her. They just thought it was someone trying to get into the community. So when my brother called to tell Jeff, my husband, that she was found, he just dropped the phone and came bursting through the door. I was trying to get dressed, because we were headed down to the pond which we now called “the site.” I think I said: “Praise Jesus!” about 50 times.

I went to call him back, to thank him, but I had the wrong number. I had his home number, but he obviously wasn’t home. I called the school, because the kids were back in school and they were devastated. It was really impacting some kids. So many people knew Nadia. She really is a kid who you know who she is. The teachers had come out trying to look for her, and the principal…It was just such a tight community and such a wonderful school. We called her sister at school, and a friend went to go get her, and it never occurred to me…[unknown] as soon as Nadia’s found. So we called her and we said: “They found Nadia!” And she said: [Unknown]. I said: “Yes,” and she said: “Yay! Yay! Yay! Yay!” for about five minutes.

Sharon daVanport: Aw.

Tanya Bloom: It was just tears and excitement and praising God for bringing her back, and for James King. We’re just so thankful to him for his faithfulness to go out there. He found her where they hadn’t looked.

She was in trouble that last day. Her feet had just swollen to about three or four times the size of what they should’ve been and they were all cut. She took Mommy’s gardening shoes and lost them the first day. Her feet were just cut up and swollen and she wasn’t moving around a whole lot. I think she was in trouble that day. So we were just so thankful that he went out there and found her. It was just a big celebration and a party. The prayer vigil turned into a big pizza party at her school.

Tricia Kenney: Aw.

Sharon daVanport: Aw.

Tanya Bloom: She missed it, because she was in the hospital for about a week, but you know. [Laughter] It was just [celebratory?], yeah.

Tricia Kenney: How long was it before you got the news, before you were actually able to see her?

Tanya Bloom: They took us to one location. They had a couple teams go in after her, and they weren’t sure how they were gonna bring her back out. It was just so dense. I guess the day before, my brother and James King actually had been in this group. Some other people had been walking. They finally let [unknown] small group go in, and they said 15 feet apart, you couldn’t even hear each other.

So it took them about an hour to get to her, but about two hours to bring her out. They had a paramedic; they had to stop and treat all the workers that were bringing her out as well. It was just so thick and so dangerous. So there was probably about two and a half, three hours before we got to see her once we knew she was okay. But knowing she was okay was all I needed. It a good wait. I’d been having this horrible wait for four days and four nights, and this one was okay. It was just…to see her was…it was like when you first see them when they’re first born again. It was just amazing and [I’m] just so thankful to have her back.

Sharon daVanport: Right.

Tricia Kenney: Thank God she was okay, and thank God they found her. You said she was in the hospital for about a week afterwards?

Tanya Bloom: Yeah. She ended up getting bacteria in her blood, so they had to treat her through IV. She was there for a week to be cared for that way.

Sharon daVanport: Wow.

Tanya Bloom: But it was amazing. The first day, she was really tired. The next day, just to get out of bed to use the bathroom, she had to be helped. By the third day, she was padding down the hallway like Frankenstein, and by the fourth day, she was like: “Hey, how you doing?” Sassing and being back to her normal self, so I’m like: “She feels good!” [Laughter]

Sharon daVanport: Aw.

Tanya Bloom: She healed miraculously. She really did.

Sharon daVanport: Good. Well, that’s good. That’s serious, to get a blood infection. Now, that must’ve been from the cuts on her feet and the bug bites, is that correct?

Tanya Bloom: Yeah, the cuts. And then she would go into the water to scrape off the mud. So I’m sure that those open wounds were getting all the bacteria from that, because that’s just stagnant water.

Sharon daVanport: I see, yeah. What an ordeal.

Tanya Bloom: Yeah. Considering how many days and nights she was out there, I thought she’d be filthy. She was dirty, but she wasn’t as bad as I thought she’d be. God just really took care of her; He really did.

Sharon daVanport: Right.

Tricia Kenney: Wow.

Sharon daVanport: That’s an amazing story. And for her to say she does not like dirt, bless her heart. She was [unknown] in the woods. And she doesn’t like it. Aw, bless her heart. My goodness. Well, I see Tim’s over in the chat room. It looks like Tim’s joined in the chat room. Congratulations, Tim. I should just type that in the chat room real quick.

Tricia Kenney: Do you let Nadia go out in your neighborhood at all? Did it take a while before you even let her out of the house, after all that?

Tanya Bloom: It took me a while to even be able to walk near that area, to be honest with you. She’s outgrown her bike now, but she’s gotten better. They had some people that came from the UK to do a documentary on children who’ve survived, and she handled it so much better than I would’ve. I was breaking down in tears.

Sharon daVanport: Oh, wow.

Tricia Kenney: Wow. I bet.

Tanya Bloom: She’s pretty amazing. She definitely doesn’t like to talk about it, if you get really: “How do you feel?” and all the scary things that make her relive that. Then she’s more quiet. I do notice when you start asking questions. But she tries to move forward.

Tricia Kenney: Well, it was a pretty traumatic experience for her. Reliving that for her has to be hard, and I know it’s probably gonna take some time for her to work through that and be okay with it. It’s scary being out there by yourself and not knowing if anybody’s gonna find you, and you’re separated from your family. So, yeah, that’s probably very traumatic for her to try and relive in her mind again.

Sharon daVanport: Yeah. Well, gosh, Tanya. I looked at the time and we’re narrowing down towards the end of the hour. I just wanted to thank you again for coming on AWN radio and sharing your story, and telling us all about Nadia and all the great things, and school, and having her talk with us. Make sure you tell her thank you again for us.

Tanya Bloom: I will. [Unknown]

Sharon daVanport: Yeah. And I’ll be in touch.

Tricia Kenney: We’re so very happy for you, and so glad that this turned out well and she was found and safe, and that your family is whole again. I can’t imagine four days. My son’s gone missing for an hour, and that was more traumatic than I ever wanna relive. I’m so glad that you guys are all okay and together.

Tanya Bloom: Thank you. We are, too.

Sharon daVanport: I’ll be in touch, Tanya, and we’re gonna continue our conversation about middle school. We said we’d continue talking about that. [Laughter] I’ll be in touch over the next week, okay?

Tanya Bloom: Okay. I look forward to talking to you again.

Sharon daVanport: Okay. Thanks so much, Tanya.

Tricia Kenney: Thank you, Tanya.

Sharon daVanport: All right. Have a great weekend.

Tanya Bloom: You, too. Bye-bye.

Sharon daVanport: Okay. Bye-bye.

Tricia Kenney: Bye-bye.

[Tanya hangs up]

Sharon daVanport: Okay. Well, that was so nice of both of them to join us today. Tanya didn’t know, actually, if Nadia was gonna even wanna come on and talk at all. But she said she’s doing a little bit better. She was telling us towards the end that Nadia was interviewed for a documentary show for somewhere in the UK, so I think she’s getting kind of used to talking a little bit more about it.

Tricia Kenney: Right, right. I wanted to ask her how much she’s gotten in contact with the media, if they’re gonna be doing any stories on any news stations or anything like that. But I guess we’ll see.

Sharon daVanport: Right. She did mention to me…I don’t wanna say too much about that, because I don’t know a lot about it. But she did mention to me that they do try to avoid the media. Not so much avoid, but it’s just really not a comfortable thing. When Nadia was found, they just wanted to concentrate on Nadia and getting her well. It wasn’t real easy for them to put themselves out there at the time. It’s probably getting easier now.

I wanna thank everyone for tuning in today, whether it was on the switchboard, listening in through the phone, or if you’re gonna listen later on the podcast. Hello to all of you listening later. I want you to stay tuned for our upcoming lineup, to be posted this next week. We have some really great guests slated for this fall. For those who have seen the autism documentary Dad’s in Heaven with Nixon, it’s currently being featured on Showtime. We have an upcoming broadcast here on AWN radio with some special guests from that film.

Tricia Kenney: Right. That should be really good.

Sharon daVanport: Right. I haven’t seen it yet, and I really want to. I don’t have Showtime, so I’m gonna try to figure out how I can see this documentary. If you haven’t seen it, though, I saw the listing thta on Showtime, it’s gonna be on tomorrow morning on August 29. And then it’s going to be over on Showtime Family during the evening of August 31, and then again on Showtime Family during the evening of September 28. So check your local listings for the showtimes in your area. I think that’s gonna do it for us today, Tricia.

Tricia Kenney: All right; sounds good. Who are we doing next week?

Sharon daVanport: I believe next week’s show you produce with Jasper Steve. Is that correct?

Tricia Kenney: Yep, that’s correct. Jasper Steve’ll be with us next week, so that should be a good show as well. I hope you can join us for that.

Sharon daVanport: Okay. And so from all of us to all of you, have a great week. And we look forward to next time on AWN radio. Goodbye.

Tricia Kenney: Bye-bye.

[End]

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