8-year-old author shares inspiring story of helping grandmother recover from stroke

Eight-year-old Kaiya Desai is now a published author and a second-grade student at High Point Elementary School in Sandy Springs. (Provided by Desai Family)

A High Point Elementary School second-grader has written and illustrated a book about how she helped her grandmother recover from a stroke.

Kaiya Desai’s “My Life: Dida and the Stroke” offers the message that you are never too little to help.

The book went on sale at Amazon on May 1, the start of Stroke Awareness Month. Kaiya has a special book launch on Saturday, May 18, from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. at the Sandy Springs Library, 395 Mt. Vernon Highway.

Kaiya, 8, shares a special bond with her grandmother – nicknamed Dida – who always picked her up from school each day.

“And then she lets me do stuff with her like sometimes go to an ice cream place. Or go get a popsicle or doughnuts,” Kaiya said.

When her father, a doctor, went to her grandmother’s house to check on her when she was having a stroke, Kaiya was scared when she learned that Dida would be flown by helicopter to a hospital that could treat her. She worried more that her grandmother would have to stay in the hospital for years. She already had a bad experience of not being able to see her during COVID.

Kaiya Desai, left, helped “Dida”, her grandmother, in her recovery from a stroke. (Provided by Desai Family)

When her grandmother returned home, Kaiya helped out as much as she could. She would clear the floor of her home of obstacles so Dida could walk safely. Kaiya also ensured she took her medicine, ate healthy snacks and meals, and remained hydrated.

Kaiya also urged her grandmother to complete puzzles “so her brain could get more active and smarter so she could also regain her memory of finding words and stuff like that.”

She has advice for kids her age, starting with recognizing the signs that someone might be having a stroke.

“I would tell them the FAST acronym, with ‘F’ standing for look for facial drooping, ‘A’ means check for weak arms, ‘S’ means check for a weird smile, and ‘T’ equals time, or call 911.”

“Also make sure that you ask them if they feel like the room is spinning or don’t feel right or can’t walk properly,” Kaiya said.

Kaiya will donate all proceeds from her book to the American Stroke Association, which helped promote the book with an article it shared with thousands of readers last summer.

Kaiya said her first-grade teacher, Tiffany Churchwell, showed her how to put words down on paper to write her book. And her second-grade teacher, Marci Wimbush, helped her get the book published.

Kaiya said she plans on writing a series of books about her experiences to help other kids. Her father, Dr. Dhaval Desai, said they were very proud of their daughter.

“She gives her heart into everything she does and just kind of came out of her own spirit when her grandma was dealing with a stroke,” her mother, Dr. Yogita Desai, said. “She just wanted to share what she learned from it and wanted to give to others.”

Kaiya’s mother thinks it’s amazing for someone her daughter’s age to think of a big purpose, and that she wants to help kids like her understand that even if you feel little and helpless, there are different ways to help.

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