Student pens book about sister’s rare syndrome

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Feb 16, 2011 in Childrens Books, Rat News | Subscribe

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Tommy Glatzmayer, right, wrote a book about his sister Melanie, left, who has Cornelia de Lange syndrome and their pet rats. (Ashley Burke/CBC)

An eight-year-old author read to his Manotick, Ont., classmates Wednesday, from a book he has written about his older sister’s battle with a rare medical condition.

Tommy Glatzmayer is a student at St. Leonard’s Catholic School and the author of Melanie and Tommy have Two Pet Rats and One Syndrome — a book about how his sister Melanie is dealing with Cornelia de Lange syndrome.

“Downs syndrome, autism, Tourette’s syndrome … it’s not like a mosquito bite,” Tommy read from the book.

“My sister was born with Cornelia de Lange syndrome and it won’t go away over night.”

Cornelia de Lange syndrome is a rare condition marked by a distinctive facial appearance, psychomotor delays and feeding difficulties. Around 100 Canadians have the disorder, which is believed to be caused by a mutated gene.

Melanie Glatzmayer’s trouble speaking and hearing in class often made her the subject of jokes at school, some of which were bad enough to send her younger brother home in tears.

“They were saying her work wasn’t very good, and she wasn’t doing proper sentences,” he said.

And so when he was 6-years-old, Tommy began writing a book about his sister and their pet rats along with his mother, Nathalie Wendling. His self-published book has now sold 3,000 copies, and made his sister the talk of the class again — in a good way, this time.

Classmates said it was “really cool” how Tommy stood up for his sister, and that Melanie will be looked at “like a star” now that she’s in a book.

For Tommy, it was a thrill to read to a gymnasium full of his classmates.

“Some things are for sure. Melanie has a syndrome. We have so much fun together. We will be friends forever. We will have pet rats one after another one after another.”

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