Blog Therapy


A few years in the past I met a family with a toddler with further needs. We acquired chatting they usually defined their daughter’s condition wasn’t coated by any incapacity organisations. Their daughter lived with a uncommon condition which left the household without funded therapy help (this was within the days before NDIS). As I listened to the mom converse, I realised we have been the truth is fortunate to have remedy coated by the Cerebral Palsy Alliance (then generally known as the Spastic Centre). At the moment it was my lifeline. I’ve never forgotten that conversation with the family and through the years discovered of the opposite ramifications of getting a uncommon situation, including the questions left unanswered and the isolation.

At this time is Uncommon Disease Day, and I assumed it was a very good opportunity to spotlight just some rare circumstances/illnesses by asking our readers to contribute their tales. It’s pretty to assist these families shine a light-weight on their specific circumstances.

Dani shares

Inform us about your condition/illness or your youngster’s condition/illness.

Jakob is 7. The condition he has is CHOPS Syndrome. At present on account of rarity it’s unknown how many people have this condition. There’s one research article written concerning the syndrome and this is based mostly on a cohort of three youngsters. Jakob was the 7th individual on the planet to be recognized. There’s one other grownup recognized in Australia. I’m conscious of approximately 12 youngsters, adolescents and younger adults who have now been recognized. It is a multisystem disorder and is brought on by a mutation to the AFF4 gene. This gene is chargeable for complicated processes that influence the timing for genetic info being expressed through the improvement of the embryo. Therefor many elements of the physique are impacted upon by this syndrome. CHOPS stands for Cognitive Impairment/Course Facial Features, Coronary heart Defects, Weight problems, Pulmonary Involvement, Skeletal Dysplasia/Brief Stature. It was discovered in 2013 on the Youngsters’s Hospital Of Philadelphia and the primary medical journal article was revealed in 2015. Jakob was recognized in 2016 via exome sequencing after many years of genetic testing.

Rare Disease Day

What are the challenges of dwelling with a uncommon illness/condition?

For Jakob the syndrome has had many bodily impacts. As a young baby he was very medically fragile. He spent much of his first yr as an inpatient on the Royal Youngsters’s Hospital in Melbourne. He was on oxygen till he was 2 and a half. He doesn’t have verbal language and his motor milestones are very delayed. He is nonetheless studying to walk. He has a PEG for fluids and plenty of feeding difficulties. He is also very brief and has altered limb lengths. It appears that evidently the guts and lung/airway difficulties seem to wreak probably the most havoc on those who have been recognized with this syndrome. Early on it was extremely difficult as there have been no concrete answers about what was happening for Jakob and why he was experiencing certain medical issues. Not understanding what the longer term would hold was not straightforward. Each intervention is successfully trial and error, and experimental. As a father or mother it’s a must to do your personal analysis, hold a lot information about your baby and advocate so strongly to make things happen on your youngster. It initially was a particularly isolating experience.

The place do you get help in your condition/your baby’s situation?

I used to be fortunate sufficient to link in with Syndromes And not using a Identify Australia (SWAN) and sit on the overall committee for quite a few years. By means of this organisation I met a lot of different families in comparable conditions. A number have been additional ahead in their journey’s for analysis and have been capable of help me in figuring out who to ask to make things happen for Jakob. It was by way of their help that we finally discovered a geneticist who labored very onerous to find his analysis. On a sensible degree a lot of my help has come from fellow NAPA mother and father. Early in Jakob’s life we started travelling overseas for therapy remedy. It was by way of the NAPA Centre that I first had the chance to satisfy different mother and father with comparable challenges to Jakob. It is these mother and father who, by way of social media primarily, that I search help from and achieve the required information to proceed to help Jakob. The world of Fb and Instagram has been instrumental in providing connections to other households that might not have been potential otherwise. More just lately following analysis we’ve developed a Facebook group for the families all over the world who have youngsters with CHOPS Syndrome. This has been superb. It has allowed us to debate challenges which have arisen and even share medical interventions that have then assisted another baby. We’re also fortunate enough to be part of the Steve Waugh Basis household and thru their occasions we now have had the chance to hyperlink with others who has rare illnesses.

Rare Disease Day

Have you ever had a holiday, or travelled somewhere you/your youngster has actually loved? What made it such a superb holiday?

Our holidays are mainly linked to therapy journeys. Jakob has been to LA quite a lot of occasions for therapy, we now have finished a bit of little bit of journey round California because of this. Final yr we travelled throughout once more after a two yr hole. My sister and I took Jakob to Disneyland. He had been earlier than however he was the right age for it this time. It was unimaginable! It was so nice to be able to do an exercise the identical as each different household. Jakob just beloved it! To observe the sheer delight and pleasure that he had from happening the rides and watching the sunshine exhibits was so rewarding as a mother or father. I feel I’ll have even cried tears of joy at one level. He’s the type of kid who exhibits his excitement together with his entire physique and it is contagious. Disneyland is fairly superb. Utilizing their disability providers made attending a whole lot of the rides much simpler. We nonetheless have challenges with peak restrictions for Jakob but as a result of they cater for such a wide age range there was tons we might take pleasure in nonetheless. The employees are unimaginable and they are very attuned to the world of disabilities. I hope that we will take him again on his subsequent therapy trip!

Jen shares

Rare Disease Day

Inform me about your situation/disease or your youngster’s situation/disease.

Amelia, 7, and Sam, 4, have a particularly rare genetic mutation, ‘DNM1 genetic mutation’. The gene was found and linked to epileptic encephalopathy in humans around 2014, previous to that it was recognized solely in mice. We’re a small disease group, but growing with about 44 recognized affected worldwide, and four of these in Australia. Amelia and Sam make up half the Aussies!

The youngsters we all know of age from 12 months, to 27 years. We also have an enormous vary of talents and challenges, virtually all have a developmental delay, some can walk, some say a couple of phrases, virtually all have seizures or some type of motion disorder. Amelia and Sam sit on the more challenged end, requiring help with all tasks like eating, dressing and toileting, use wheelchairs and have vital developmental delays. Our two most difficult elements are their sleep and motion issues. They’re able to show emotion, and whilst not saying phrases in the intervening time, they will make it fairly clear if they are unhappy, or joyful. Amelia and Sam also have severe vision impairments, with a analysis of ‘cortical vision impairment’- the issue is with their brains processing the knowledge, not their eyes.

We arrange a Facebook group – DNM1 dynamos, and an internet web page – to attach households. This group has slowly grown and we have now households from the US and UK, in addition to Norway, Singapore, Gran Canaria and South America.  Inside the group, there’s one main group with the same variant, who make up a few third of those recognized recognized. As our group is slowly growing, we’re seeing similarities in this group, and that is useful with analysis and remedy.

What are the challenges of dwelling with a rare disease/situation?

Rare Disease Day

Being so uncommon, and so just lately discovered, we wrestle with our ‘pathway’. The disease has been described as life long, and life limiting. We are discovering that standard remedies aren’t efficient for the illness – with most of the group finding that the usual drugs don’t work. We’re seeing our youngsters move ahead attain and retain expertise, which is promising, and whilst progress is sluggish, we are shifting forward.

We definitely feel remoted at occasions, but in addition welcomed by different teams with comparable circumstances. We’ve related with GETA – a gaggle of oldsters in Victoria who have joined together to ‘Get A cure’ for genetic epilepsy, and hold a particularly helpful conference annually in Melbourne. GETA has related different households with genetic epilepsies, who started off small like ours, and tells their stories round find out how to set up teams, connect, and appeal to analysis. They are a robust, motivated group of oldsters and seeing and connecting with other households with a rare genetic epileptic situation is actually useful, we is probably not on the identical path with the illnesses – but all families need a remedy.

For us, that may come within the type of ‘precision’ drugs, where the remedy is designed specifically for our gene mutation. That is only found by analysis, and research takes money and time.

Health professionals, similar to docs don’t find out about our condition, and knowledge obtainable for each diagnostic and remedy is tough to seek out. The best way the gene mutation works is complicated, and lack of knowledge means typically we feel very remoted and concerned – all new drugs are like rolling the dice, we don’t understand how they may react, for example with extreme lethargy, will it make their movements worse, or improve seizures. We now have had hassle planning actions or enjoyable issues, if the youngsters get sick it happens shortly – a cold can put us out of action for a couple of weeks, and convey on different problems like seizures or enhanced movements. We’ve got discovered to not get excited, as issues change so shortly. It may be heartbreaking to need to cancel final minute because of health, and we have to have access to a great hospital. We’re unreliable, and that has isolated us a rather a lot.

Last yr we travelled to Melbourne for a specialist appointment – packed up the van, and made the lengthy drive. On the final day Amelia fractured her leg- pure accident from twisting the mistaken method, which led to her having a couple of days in hospital and medically flown back to Canberra. Nigel has had two journeys now in medical transport and fairly the professional, and we aren’t aiming for more, despite the superb service and views.

The place do you get help in your youngster’s condition?

Connecting with different households with the condition has made an enormous difference. We frequently connect on chat, and speak about symptoms and each day life. We now have been capable of share drugs that work, and therapies that have worked properly. We’ve got been capable of connect treating docs globally, so they can share their insights.

On an area degree, we’ve got NDIS plans for the youngsters. This course of is universally demanding for households, especially round getting gear in a timely method. Rare illness households can have a rough journey, especially if they don’t neatly fall into an NDIS category. We self handle our plans which we discover provides us the choice of the therapies we need to meet the youngsters’s objectives. We now have to travel to Sydney or Melbourne for specialist evaluation, but that’s the case for many complicated youngsters in Canberra. Respite for youngsters with complicated circumstances could be very restricted, if out there at all, in comparison with the cities. Our closest is Bear Cottage at Manly who do a tremendous job, but getting there’s the challenge for us.

There are some common challenges that a number of mother and father of youngsters with complicated needs have – access to altering amenities being an enormous one now we’re too huge for the child change tables, accessible actions and venues, finding actions the youngsters can participate in – and then help staff to assist them all remain huge challenges. Having two youngsters that need wheelchairs – they will’t walk, signifies that I can’t just take the youngsters out to the grocery store, or to the park. This is onerous.

The youngsters attend a mainstream Catholic faculty, with 1:1 help. This was actually essential to us, that that they had a way of group and belonging regionally. They love going to high school, and the varsity group has embraced the youngsters, with the excellent sort management of the Principal. Having this help makes a huge difference to us, and to the youngsters, and it hasn’t all the time been this manner, so we really feel very lucky.

Have you ever had a holiday or travelled someplace you/your baby has actually loved? What made it such a great vacation?

Our first few years where a blur of hospitals, travel for hospitals, remedy, journey for remedy. Now things have settled, we try to determine the practical aspect of holidays, resembling suitable lodging. The youngsters have special beds, and can’t sleep in regular lodge beds – they fall out, or in the event that they get caught they will’t right themselves so a suffocation or damage danger. That is problematic looking for suitable lodging.  We need to have area for two wheelchairs, room to fit a commode or tub seat within the bathe / tub so we will wash. We will simply carry the youngsters, at 20 kilos, but it will turn into more durable so soon we will need to journey with a hoist.

Aircraft travel is a challenge with two chair users, who can’t sit unsupported in a aircraft chair, and carrying luggage and luggage, and in case you throw toileting into the combination, it will possibly develop into overwhelming.

We mainly stored our journey to round therapy appointments, so Sydney and Melbourne. Amelia loves being on the seashore, she smiles so much, her little face should ache. Each youngsters love the water – and swimming pools are our enjoyable time. Our most up-to-date, and profitable travel adventure was to NRMA Sydney Lakeside Holiday Park. We stayed within the accessible cabin. The park was nicely paved for the youngsters’s chairs and walkers, they usually had a water park/ play space for them to discover, in addition to being right on the lake which was pretty and warm , and excellent for them to play in – and their first salt water experience. The cabin had ramp access, and was spacious – it was nice to have somewhere to have the area for all the supportive gear, and for the youngsters to be able to explore as properly, on their walkers or wheeled round. We might prepare dinner, and the youngsters meals. We took our personal beds for the bunk room. The parking was straightforward to get into with the van.

We’re eyeing off going to Mollymook, as they have a paved waterfront/ esplanade, and new accessible playground. The surf club in the areas rent seashore wheelchairs, so we will get Amelia into the water. We now have been taking a look at lodging and planning how we might get what we’d like there – from 2 chairs, 2 walkers and beds, in addition to a commode. We now have to do a number of analysis and planning earlier than we go anyplace. Different families who share info, what works and ideas are invaluable – websites like have wheelchair will travel are fabulous as we will hear first hand the professionals and cons, in addition to good footage. It might be nice to be able to should have gear once we arrive – quite than pack all of it in and inevitably overlook something.

Having one thing to do with the youngsters is actually necessary. Even when something says its ‘accessible’ or ‘all abilities’ we frequently discover that there’s restricted activities for them to do, steps in playgrounds, providers which might be inconceivable to wheel on. Just outdoors of Batemans Bay is a superb park for all talents, with a two individual swing. Typically all of the guide dealing with for an experience at the park that typical households take as a right leaves us pretty tired, and as they get greater that is turning into more durable. Canberra has an all talents playground that could be very well-liked as its fenced in, however we’re limited to what we will truly do there that the youngsters interact with. Now we attempt to find one thing with an indoor pool or heated pool/ water as we all know they love that they usually get to use their our bodies.

It will be good to go someplace as a family, for a devoted holiday – slightly than a day or two tacked onto a remedy or medical appointment. We might love to purpose massive, and fly to a seashore holiday for Amelia, or maybe Sea World. That’s our aim now – to create some household reminiscences. We don’t know what the longer term holds, but we hope to get on the market and provides our little uncommon youngsters some experiences to assist us all by means of the more durable days.

Kay shares

Rare Disease Day

Tell us about your situation/disease.

My condition known as Charcot Marie Tooth Syndrome (CMT for short), and it is named after three docs who wrote papers on it in 1886. Two French docs, Charcot and Marie, and one English doctor, named tooth! It’s estimated that as many as 1 in 7,000 individuals might have this dysfunction, however have been misdiagnosed (as l was) when younger.

CMT can also be a recognised genetic situation; nevertheless sporadic instances are recognized of (as in my case) and each baby born into the family has a 50% probability of inheritance. Some families might have many youngsters affected, some might have just one or 2 affected. Because the mapping of the human genome, many variations of CMT have been famous.

What are the challenges of dwelling with a uncommon illness/condition?

CMT is a situation that impacts (principally) the peripheral nerves (extremities) of the physique. It often begins with delicate foot drop, and weakened palms. The arms and arms, legs and ft are principally affected, with loss of sensation and weak spot. It is a degenerative illness (progressively gets worse) and, over time, some are more critically affected that others. It will possibly additionally have an effect on your skin (dryness), and in some rarer instances your voice, swallowing, and respiration.

Where do you get help on your situation?

When l was recognized (in 1980) there was no Affiliation for CMT, not many neurologists had even heard of it, and lots of docs had no concept of it in any respect! I felt alone and isolated, as no different individual in my family had this situation and I figured that l have to be a sporadic case. I joined the MS society and, via them, discovered another one that knew of CMT, l joined a gaggle of 4 different individuals in 1988, and by 1989 we have now shaped the CMT Affiliation of Australia – which is now a Nationwide organisation (and it contactable if anybody else on the market with CMT feels remoted). I spent 20 years on the committee and then retired to work with my husband in enterprise.

I have fortunately only slowly degenerated as, through the years, l have executed yoga, weights, strolling in a pool (can’t swim), and had regular massage to keep me stronger and healthier. I am in my 70’s now, and after utilizing a walking stick for 30 years, at the moment are using a strolling frame (after a spinal fusion operation in 2011) and now a wheelchair. My motto is “Never ever give up!”. Whereas volunteering with on CMT committee l did pc programs ar TAFE, and college (UNSW).

Have you ever had a holiday or travelled someplace you really loved? What made it such a superb vacation?

The most effective vacation l have ever experienced is to the Northern Territory! What a fantastic and magical place it is. I travelled with walking stick and a walking frame, and organized for a wheelchair to be delivered to the lodge we stayed in at first. I had organized, via Bourkes, for a personal 4 wheel drive tour of 5 days and four nights, encompassing Litchfield nationwide park, Katherine gorge, Kakadu, and Ahnem land. We stayed in nice motels and our driver (Peter) was the most effective. He stored us away from crowds and we went into locations have been no buses ventured. The NT is so very totally different to NSW, the animals, the birds, the silence, absolutely the great thing about all of it, which brings out an emotional response in me (tears in my eyes now).
When younger, l travelled and lived in NZ and UK, l visited my sister in USA and did a 6 week camping tour of Europe, however NT wins my heart – palms down!

A family wishing to remain Nameless shares

Inform us about your situation/illness.

The illness known as Friedreich’s Ataxia. A degenerative neuromuscular disorder that additionally impacts the skeletal system. We attended a Friedreich’s Ataxia Analysis Affiliation info discussion board last week in Sydney and have been informed that the present info they have is that 250 individuals in Australia have this disorder.

What are the challenges of dwelling with a uncommon illness/situation?

The influence on my family was, and continues to be, devastating. It was a illness no one had recognized about, neither my family nor my husband’s family had any information of it. It’s genetic, both my husband and I are carriers of the same defective recessive gene. We have now a son who thankfully does not have the illness nor is a service.

Both youngsters have been bullied at college on the odd event – the son for having a “spastic” sister, and my daughter for being “spastic”. They both had supportive faculty associates which they nonetheless keep right now. My daughter is 34. Has 2 degrees and was an Honours scholar at Macquarie Uni. She has by no means worked.

My daughter can’t use the toilet on her personal. Can’t switch on her own. Typically can’t really feel her ft or legs under the knee. She does not have the power to push herself around within the wheelchair for nice distances, can’t prepare meals or minimize the food on her plate. She is dropping her vision and listening to and has dysarthria, typically chokes on her own saliva.

She is socially isolated, couldn’t find employment when she was capable, is not capable of employment. Her buddies understandably are increasingly seeing her much less typically due to work and mentioning their own youngsters.

Her disease and it’s limitations mean we can’t be spontaneous. We need to plan forward for days out, docs appointments, because it takes hours to get her prepared. We also have to examine the weather. Extremes of weather and humidity worsens her signs and levels of fitness.

She has rotated scoliosis which impacts her respiration and causes nice ache. She has cardiomyopathy which can also be a concern.

Where do you get help in your youngster’s situation?

We had no company help until NDIS got here in. I gave up full time work as an RN and worked everlasting nights for 24 years so I might be obtainable for her in the course of the day, she had many sick days from faculty, could not attend faculty excursions until I went together with her. Our mother and father helped once they might. We saved up money to do residence modifications with out authorities assistance, used my retirement payout to purchase a wheelchair van. Now we’re helped by a begrudging NDIS.

Have you ever had a vacation or travelled someplace you really enjoyed? What made it such an excellent vacation?

We attempt to journey each few years. Was not a problem whereas she was smaller, thinner and weighed much less. We have been capable of do all of the lifting and toileting on the aircraft. Nevertheless as the illness progresses so does her weight and lack of co-ordination. Husband and I at the moment are in our mid 60’s and she or he is just too heavy for us to carry. The final 3 flights have been very troublesome for us and flight crew to transfer her from wheelchair to aisle chair to seat. We feared someone was going to get injured. We’ve got determined not to journey by aircraft together with her anymore.

She enjoyed herself most in Los Angeles. We discovered Disneyland (and Disney world Florida) and Common Studios probably the most accessible places on the earth, have had 6 visits there. The worst place for anyone in a wheelchair was in all places in the UK.


Through the years I’ve come to know a couple of households in our HWWT group with youngsters dwelling with Batten Disease.  After getting to know these families I feel I ought to take this opportunity to continue to draw consideration to this horrible life limiting illness. Final yr we misplaced considered one of our HWWT group as a result of Batten Disease. Mia and her household labored tirelessly to boost the profile of the illness and to get a drug trial permitted to help youngsters affected. We have been so sad to listen to of Mia’s passing.

Matilda together with her new puppy

Our different little good friend dwelling with Batten Disease is Matilda. A stunning little woman who we’ve grown so fond of. Matilda is somewhat battler with many hospital visits but her little smile all the time makes my coronary heart sing.

Infantile neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis, or as it is more commonly recognized Batten Illness, is a uncommon genetic condition.  As soon as wholesome youngsters lose their means to walk, speak, see and eat. You possibly can learn more about Batten and little Mia right here.

I’ll depart you with some details about Rare Illnesses which I’ve copied from the Bounce4Batten Facebook web page –

There are over 6,000 rare illnesses that affect over 300 million individuals worldwide
* 8 out of 10 sufferers have difficulties completing primary every day tasks and depend on day by day supports
* 1 in 2 rare illnesses don’t have a Foundation or Research Help Group
* 1 of 2 Sufferers Recognized with a Uncommon Disease is a Baby
* 3 of 10 Youngsters with a Rare Disease Gained’t Stay to See Their 5th Birthday
* 95% of Rare Illnesses Lack an FDA Authorised Remedy
Bridging well being and social care’ is the theme for Uncommon Disease Day 2019. A name to action for our coverage makers, healthcare professionals, and care providers to raised coordinate all elements of look after individuals dwelling with a uncommon illness.

The challenges for individuals dwelling with a uncommon disease and their households is immense.

And eventually, I’d like to offer a shout out to Steve Waugh Foundation which funds and helps many families with youngsters with a Rare Disease.