At 2 years old, little Tiammi Byott was developing well. Her mother, Michele, from Corby, England, says she was even advanced for her age, and was doing things like speaking in full sentences.
“She was a little adult, she did absolutely everything,” Michele told SWNS.
But all that changed two years ago.
In March 2016, Tiammi came down with a stomach illness and a high temperature. Her mother brought her to the hospital, but her condition was dismissed as a common bug.
The toddler’s state worsened—and her frightened mother brought her back to the hospital when she started displaying neurological problems.
“Her eyes just kept shutting and she had no coordination,” Michele said. “She was trying to put her dummy in her mouth but she kept missing and she couldn’t talk.”
Doctors finally discovered the heartbreaking truth: Tiammi had encephalitis—a swelling of the brain from some unknown infection.
By the time the toddler was dismissed from the hospital two weeks later, brain damage had taken its toll, and the once fairly independent child had regressed into a coma-like state.
“She was disabled from the neck down, and her mouth was crooked as if she’d had a stroke,” Michele said.
Tiammi had regressed and suddenly couldn’t speak or walk.
“Her brain had completely shut down and it was as if she was back to being a newborn.”
Doctors warned that recovery would be slow, and Tiammi’s parents were devastated at seeing their daughter in such a helpless state.
But Tiammi’s condition improved … thanks to help from an unexpected place.
Michele and her partner also have a son named Jordan, who is two years younger than Tiammi. But due to his sister’s condition, there’s been an unlikely role reversal … that’s yielded stunning results.
Over the past 18 months, Jordan has been developing at a normal rate for his age, every milestone from crawling to speaking words. And seeing her younger brother do these things has inspired Tiammi to re-learn these things alongside him.
“It was as if watching her brother play with the toys, she thought ‘I want to be doing that,’ Michele said.
“She found the energy to drag herself across the floor to where her brother was playing.”
Over time, Jordan took on the “older brother” role, encouraging his sister to repeat his words and showing her new things.
“He’s teaching her everything… she is always copying him and mimicking,” the mother said.
Michele says the baby brother’s unlikely guidance has been invaluable for Tiammi’s recovery.
“If we didn’t have Jordan she wouldn’t be as determined, but she won’t let anything stop her,” she told SWNS. “We attribute the speed of her recovery to him and their unique bond.”
And now they’re seeing the miraculous results:
Tiammi has learned to walk again!
“We were told she would never ride a bike but we bought her one for Christmas and she’s trying with stabilizers—just like her brother.
“We were told she wouldn’t be able to do up buttons but Jordan is learning to use a zip and she’s copying him—and he’s helping her do it.”
Michele says that while Tiammi is listed as disabled, she’s “no different than any other child.”
It was a frightening, disheartening condition to see her daughter in—but thanks to an unlikely little mentor, it seems that there’s hope after all.
And the unusual relationship has brought these siblings closer together than ever.
“They were close before—but now they are inseparable,” Michele said. “They go to nursery together and every night they kiss each other and cuddle, and say to each other ‘see you in the morning.'”
“When he does it, she does it.”