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11/15/17blog post

why you should take your kids to see the movie "Wonder"

When my daughter Olivia was in 5th grade, a pre-schooler in the restroom at the same time as my daughter and her friend, looked at Olivia and proclaimed with such distain, “I hate her face!”

No parent wants to ever hear that these type words were uttered at their child, much less have their child endure such occurrences.

My daughter Olivia, along with myself, have a facial difference called Treacher Collins syndrome (TCS). TCS is only one of the many craniofacial syndromes babies are born with every day. 

With the movie WONDER coming out in theaters November 17th, and Nathaniel Newman's real life story of facial difference on ABC's 20/20 the same day, I am reminded of my own daughter's trial and tribulations with her facial difference.  Auggie (from the movie), Nathaniel and my daughter, Olivia, all have TCS.

Children with craniofacial syndromes have lifelong reconstructive surgeries to help them breathe, eat, talk and hear, as well as other issues.  If surgeries weren’t enough for the child and their family to deal with, there are social issues that go along with looking different.  It is so important to have supportive family members to help the child grow up in a positive environment.  Having the family support leads to self-awareness for the individual, the ability to talk about it and helps them adjust to their differences.  This gives them confidence and the tools to educate and advocate for themselves.

Why should you and your kids see the movie Wonder?

I wish I could say that family and school support is all that is needed to adjust well, but unfortunately, we must look far beyond this.  The entire public population needs to be educated so that children and adults with facial difference are not looked at as ‘less than’ a typical person based solely on their different appearance or that they may speak oddly.  Neither of these mean lack of intelligence, yet so many with facial difference are viewed and treated this way.

At the time the incident in the bathroom happened, I had already role-played with my daughter enough that she knew instinctively that the little girl just didn’t know how to communicate that she looked different from her.  This is why it’s important to educate parents everywhere so they in turn educate their children on people with facial difference. Seeing the movie Wonder with your kids is a great place to start!  Use it as an opportunity to talk about how they treat their classmates and others that are different from them and whether they have ever felt bullied or targeted due to any differences that they might have.

Parents remember to:

  • Teach your children from an early age to befriend those with differences and not to judge
  • Role play with children with difference on how to share their similarities rather than their differences, and teach those with difference on how to respond to stares, unkind words and bullying
  • Work with your children in the event they see an individual with facial difference while out shopping, etc., that they learn not to stare but instead say hello or introduce themselves and maybe open up conversation. Parents/Individuals with difference often times do not mind interactions or answering questions if they are presented with kindness, so always #ChooseKind

How else can we educate ourselves on this topic?

  • Books, documentaries and movies that educate on the depths of facial difference
  • Individuals with facial difference and/or their parents speaking to school classes to educate classrooms
  • Individuals with differences attending conferences/retreats and workshops for social awareness, fellowship and to educate about medical possibilities

about the Craniofacial Center at Dayton Children's

From cleft lip to rare genetic disorders, our pediatric experts treat every patient with exceptional care and compassion. From medical needs to counseling, we explain your child’s condition and answer all your questions while helping you understand your treatment options and make choices that are right for your family. learn more

If you have further questions please contact patient coordinator, Judy Mosher, at MosherJ@childrensdayton.org or call 937- 641-4755.

Judy Mosher

The Craniofacial Center patient coordinator
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