She has mental retardation. Allison was born with hydrocephalus and has a shunt to keep the fluid in her skull drained. She takes medication for infrequent seizures. She also has scoliosis, which will require surgery when she is 12. She can take a few steps on her own and can go most anywhere if someone holds her hand, but she relies on a walker at school.

Her diet has been limited to soft, smooth things, but she is learning to eat more normally now. She still likes to be fed sometimes. She is beginning to undress herself but needs assistance dressing.

Allison's vocabulary is limited, and it isn't clear if she understands everything that is said to her, but she is able to get her needs met with words or gestures. She knows colors, the names of favorite cartoons and the names of common objects and animals. She is very often clear about what she wants others in her life to do, and she can be quite stubborn about getting her way.

Her second-grade special-education class includes speech, occupational therapy and physical therapy. She seems to catch on to many things quickly with the right people and approach. She can be puzzling, though, because of lapses in her performance after she seems to have mastered things.

Allison needs a family with the patience and persistence to help her achieve as much as possible. She will need ongoing contact with her birth family. Financial assistance may be available.