‘Tommy and Melanie have two rats and one syndrome’

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Mar 29, 2013 in Rat News | Subscribe

His quest put him on a creative path that led to ‘Tommy and Melanie have two rats and one syndrome,’ a book about Cornelia de Lange syndrome (CdLS), a rare illness affecting his 10-year-old sister.

Tommy is hosting a book reading at Glen Ogilvie Public School on May 9.

“In senior Kindergarten, Tommy came home one day and said he wanted to write a book. We went to the dollar store and purchased a pencil and a blank note book. We wrote the book together,” said Nathalie Wendling, Tommy’s mother. “He wanted to make it funny enough to entertain his friends. I was in charge of making it informative and educational so it could be used to raise awareness about CdLS.”

It is believed that 100 cases of CdLS, which leads to severe developmental abnormalities, have been diagnosed in Canada. But because little is known about the disease, researchers say many more are misdiagnosed.

The struggle

Wendling gives a heart-wrenching account of her family’s struggle as they became aware of Melanie’s illness shortly after her birth in 2000.

”Over the next seven years Melanie was subjected to ten more surgeries and procedures and experienced serious eating disorders. In senior Kindergarten she missed so much school some of her classmates believed she had died and that the teachers were keeping it a secret,” reads an excerpt from a site dedicated to Tommy and Melanie (2petrats.com).

The gene that causes the congenital syndrome was first identified in 2004.

“Today, life is easier. It has been for the past two years. Melanie still has 60 to 80 appointments a year and has many developmental delays,” Wendling continued.

Book reading

‘Tommy and Melanie have two rats and one syndrome’ was published last September and is aimed at introducing children to the concept of disability and differences.

The book, which has enjoyed wide success, tells the story of two siblings and their pet rats Cinderella, Ninja and Smokey.

“Melanie holds her pet rat every night and every morning. If Melanie has a tantrum the pet rat will calm her down. When Melanie is sick, the pet rat will watch TV with her all afternoon. When Melanie requires nose spray, her rat gets sprayed too,” Wendling continued, adding that more than 4,000 books have been sold to date.

“We’ve reached 100,000 hits on our website in four months,” she continued. (Tommy) loves to make people laugh. He loves to hear children laughing, and so do I.”

The book reading and a video presentation will be held Monday, May 9, at Glen Ogilvie Public School, 46 Centrepark Drive, Gloucester. Go to www.2petrats.com.

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