"Chromosomal Abnormality," My Little Girl Only Talks To..Animals

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    Rose Willcocks

    ESME Willcocks was adamant nothing could be wrong with her baby. Then doctors told her Rose may never speak... but none of them had reckoned on the power of animals. Here Esme, 37, explains how Rose has become a regular little "Miss Dolittle"...​
    'HOLDING my newborn daughter Rose to my breast, I cooed: "Come on darling, it's the best thing for you." But it was no good, Rose just didn't want to breastfeed.
    Rose was my first child. I'd heard breastfeeding could be difficult but I didn't worry too much - after all, she didn't mind a bottle. She even made a little grunting noise when she fed.
    And, apart from the feeding, Rose was the perfect baby. She fed, then slept, fed, then slept.
    "Textbook!" me and my husband Dave, now 40, would joke.
    She didn't even cry - we'd never hear a peep from her.
    When I mentioned the grunting at a check-up, the doctors examined her. "Her larynx and trachea are floppy," they said. But it was nothing to worry about.

    Then, at three-and-a-half weeks, we were at another check-up and this time there was more serious news. "I'd like to send Rose for a second opinion," the doctor said.
    Rose may have behaved like a textbook baby but according to the paediatrician she didn't look like one. "She has what we call dysmorphic features," he said.
    I felt such a failure and imagined my baby girl with extreme features, her face distorted because of the "dysmorphic". They said it wasn't Down's or cystic fibrosis, but what was wrong with my Rose?
    The doctors said they needed to carry out blood tests and look at her chromosomes - the make-up of her DNA. But I still didn't feel too concerned. "There can't be anything wrong with her, she sleeps and eats so well," I said, not wanting to admit my beautiful baby had any kind of condition or illness. I just couldn't bear for something to be wrong with Rose.
    The weeks turned into months and she continued to behave like an ideal baby - except for the strange grunting when she fed.

    At five-and-a-half months we were called back. "Rose has a chromosomal abnormality," the doctor said. Two of her chromosomes had swapped around. So had mine, it turned out - but mine had done it perfectly so the role of each chromosome wasn't changed. "Rose's didn't make a complete swap and so altered her genetic make-up," the doctor said.
    I felt another wave of relief - something was wrong but at least they knew what it was. But there was another shock in store.
    After checking a genetic database of people with chromosomal conditions, the doctors had found that Rose was the only person in the world with this condition. So there were no other mums whose child had grown up with the same abnormality.

    There was a support group for families in the same position as us, called Unique, but I couldn't call another mum and ask about Rose's condition in particular.
    I'd thought Rose was a perfect baby because she was so well behaved. In fact it was the terrible opposite. I thought I had been lucky because she didn't cry until she was eight months old - but now I knew why.
    We could only wait and see how Rose progressed. There was one thing the doctors did know, though.
    "It's possible that Rose may never speak," they told us. She would have learning difficulties too. I was devastated. Of all the things I'd expected, this wasn't one.
    She might never say "Mummy" or "Daddy", might never tell me she loved me or how her day had been.
    When Rose was 14 months we moved to Bishop's Stortford in Hertfordshire and enrolled Rose at Grove Cottage, a centre for children and adults with learning disabilities.

    It was such a relief to be around other mums whose children had learning difficulties - suddenly I didn't feel so alone and my feeling of "failure" began to abate. It was brilliant for Rose, too. She really progressed being there. Then one day, collecting Rose, I got chatting to another mum who told me about Megan Baker House in Herefordshire. It was a centre for kids with special needs where she could have intense therapy. I prayed it could be the answer to helping her at least make some sounds.
    We decided to book a four-week placement and went in September 2006. It was so successful that we went back in February 2007 for another month.
    The second time we found a holiday let that seemed idyllic. It was a 400-year-old working farm and horseriding centre.
    The owner told us we could have the run of the farm and so we went to see the cows.
    Suddenly, Rose perked up. Then, I did a double-take as I struggled to take in what I was hearing. She wasn't actually saying words, but there were no two ways about it - she was talking to the cow! She was communicating as best she could by making noises, trying to form words.
    Gobsmacked, I raced to find Dave. "She's talking!" I gabbled. "She's trying to talk to the animals!" It sounded silly, but it was true. There was something about animals that made Rose connect.

    We could barely get her to make eye contact or moan or groan, but here she was, "chatting" like an old friend to the cows and horses.
    She was alive in a way I'd never seen before. Every morning she'd be up, by our bed with her wellies and coat, wanting to see the animals.
    Sleepy-eyed, I was happy to agree.

    The change in Rose was astounding. The doctors were amazed too.
    "There's no explanation - just go with it," they said.
    She's four now, and I take her horse-riding as often as I can. Her affinity with animals amazes everyone. She changes from introvert to a right little chatterbox!
    As a mum I can tell what Rose needs, and she has ways of asking for things or telling me something's wrong. With new people she will lie on the floor and open her arms to you if she "accepts" you. But with animals she's as relaxed as if they're old friends. I want to take her swimming with dolphins as I think it could unlock the door to her speech problem.

    There's a centre in the US which combines swimming with dolphins and therapy which has had some incredible results. It's got to be worth a try. We'll do anything we can to help our little girl.
    We have another daughter now, Ruby, 15 months, and unfortunately Rose ignores her completely. But I hope that one day she'll be able to talk to her like other sisters do.
    All we can do is make sure Rose sees as many animals as possible and hope that she'll talk to us one day the way she talks to them.

    I was so touched by this article. :heart:


  2. awww that is sad and yet...so cute that she talks to the animals.
  3. I loved this article! It was sad but also so unique and amazing!
  4. What a bittersweet story.
  5. It made me tear up a little bit.....but it's fascinating how she can communicate with animals! This little girl may grow up to be someone very important!
  6. Prada, you always find the most interesting articles! Thanks for sharing this one. I agree with the others, it's a sad story but also interesting and a little sweet that she talks to animals.

  7. Your welcome. :heart: Its such a heart warming story. What a sweet little girl.
  8. That's so sweet. There's an organisation called Therapy Dogs where they bring dogs to senior homes and homes for people with disabilities, and reclusive residents are known begin to open up and get better after the visits.
  9. This is Rose's Mummy here. I just thought I would say thank you for taking the time to read about Rose and for posting your comments. Our aim is to get Rose to Florida next summer to participate in a therapy programme that includes swimming with dolphins. If anyone wants more info or to find out how we get on, just let me know.:tup:
  10. There is a wonderful book called Animals in Translation by [SIZE=-1]Temple Grandin. It goes into depth about how some people with forms of autism (not sure if Rose's is or not) connect and understand animals unbelievably well. The author herself is autistic, and she really sheds a light on this amazing connection!
  11. Agree, except she is already someone very important.
  12. That is kind of sad but it's also cute.

    She is adorable in the picture.
  13. Thanks for the recommendation about the book. Sounds like very interesting reading. Rose has been diagnosed with autism as well. Rose is unique, they have found no other person in the world with her genetic pattern. We have been told however that it is likely that her severe learning difficulties and autism are associated with the chromosomal disorder. We can't wait to get her to this centre in Florida that combines intense therapy with swimming with dolphins. The testimonals on the website from other parents that have attended are just amazing. It really can have a profound effect on the children. We are doing some serious fundraising at the moment to riase the £15,000 necessary for the trip. We plan to get there next Spring. Fingers crossed for us.

  14. You beat me to it, this is a great book and I think that Rose's mum should pick it up.
  15. Thought you guys might like to see Rose's webiste it's www.rose-willcocks-appeal.org We launched it last week and we've had a really positive response from it. Hope you like it