HER parents thought she had a bug, but when Matilda Kobier suddenly lost her ability to speak her parents knew something was seriously wrong.
Matilda, 9, was rushed to hospital where she remained for three months, recovering from the extremely rare virus HSV encephalitis.
Matilda is a Year 3 student who enjoyed reading novels, but as a result of the virus she has lost almost all of her literacy, numeracy and academic skills.
Nicole Rappell said she and her partner Martin Kobier were still coming to terms with how quickly their lives have changed.
"We thought she just had a tummy bug," Ms Rappell said.
"I stayed in her room on the Sunday night, she was really agitated and fidgety ... and finally at about 4.30am I said I was going to bed.
"By the time I got up at 7 in the morning ... I thought she felt a bit hot, and she said something ... Reuben (Matilda's older brother) was sitting in the chair next to her, and he said, 'mum, I don't understand what she just said'.
"I literally had this feeling like being in an elevator.
"My stomach just hit the floor."
Matilda was rushed to the Byron Bay Hospital, transferred to Tweed Hospital and after her condition continued to deteriorate she was transferred to a Brisbane hospital.
Matilda was able to return to her home in Byron Bay two weeks ago.
Ms Rappell emphasised how important timeliness was in preventing a worse outcome.
"If you think your child's behaviour or movements ... have changed at all when they've been a bit crook, take them to the hospital to get them checked out," she said.
"If you wait - if you think they'll be right by tomorrow - that length of time can be devastating."
Ms Rappell said the community's kindness during this time has really shone through.
Friends and family have created a fundraising webpage to raise money for Matilda's future rehabilitation and special education needs.
The page can be accessed by visiting mycause.com.au and searching for Matilda Kobier.
About HSV Encephalitis
Herpes simplex virus (HSV) encephalitis is a very rare form of encephalitis
HSV encephalitis is inflammation of the brain, typically localised to the temporal and frontal lobes
HSV encephalitis is typically managed by antiviral treatment
Herpes simplex viruses are behind common infections such as cold cores
SOURCE: The Encephalitis Society
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.