Saturday 20 January 2018

Miracle twins 'have bright future'

Nick Bramhill

The parents of former conjoined twins Hassan and Hussein Benhaffaf have been given a huge boost -- after it was confirmed their sons have exceptionally high IQ levels.

Professional assessors have predicted the miracle twins will be top of the class when they start school after tests proved their mental agility is "streets ahead" of average tots of their age.

A play specialist, who examined the Cork-born twins' intelligence levels with a series of puzzles and tests, said she was "dumbfounded" after they recorded a near-perfect score.

What makes the results even more astounding is that the two boys were born six weeks premature and spent months in an intensive care unit -- two factors which medical experts expected to hold back their mental development. But doting parents Angie and Azzedine Benhaffaf said they always had a feeling their 16-month-old sons, dubbed the 'Little Fighters', were brainboxes.

Mrs Benhaffaf, 37, said: "It's given me a huge lift and is the best piece of news we've had all year. Whatever about the boys' disabilities, I always felt their brains were healthy right from the start. But I really didn't know they were this bright until it was confirmed through tests by a play specialist from Enable Ireland.

"She came round to our house and gave them puzzles and tests for a child of their age and discovered they were leaps and bounds ahead of the normal child. Their IQ levels are sky-high and she said their brains work very, very fast. She told me she was dumbfounded by the results.

"And when you think they were born premature and spent so much time in intensive care, it makes it all the more amazing."

Mrs Benhaffaf, who last Thursday quietly celebrated the first anniversary of her sons' successful 14-hour surgical separation, said: "The boys never cease to amaze me. They have overcome so much already in their short lives. But what I now know after these tests is that they won't let their disabilities hold them back. They have wonderful brains and in later life I know they will use them to get what they want out of life."

However, the twins now face another huge battle as the next few months will determine whether they will be able to fulfil their parents dreams and walk unaided.

A US-based prosthetics specialist is due to fly to Ireland in the summer to assess the boys and determine the artificial limbs that will be needed to give them the best chance of taking their fist steps.

Mrs Benhaffaf -- who also has two daughters, Malika, 7, and Iman, 3 -- said: "They've defied everybody to date just by surviving.

"So I know that one day they will walk and they'll be flying about the place."

Meanwhile, every minute of the Benhaffafs' lives are taken up with caring for their sons who require daily physiotherapy sessions at home as well as regular visits to a disability support centre.

"I probably get about three hours' sleep a night," she added. "But as soon as I see the smiles on the boys' faces, I'm given a huge lift and I know that one day all the hard work we are now putting in will pay off."

'Little Fighters: The Million-to-One Miracles' by Angie Benhaffaf and Edel O'Connell, published by Gill & Macmillan, was launched last weekend

Sunday Independent

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