Youngster’s story helps shed light on sister’s syndrome

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on May 4, 2013 in Rat News | Subscribe

Posted Apr 5, 2012
By EMC News

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EMC News – It has been quite a road trip for two young Manotick students these last few months.

Melanie and Thomas Glatzmayer have been travelling around to as many Ontario schools as they can, promoting a book that Thomas wrote. The book called, Melanie and Tommy have two pet rats and one syndrome has become a favourite with children as well as their parents.

Melanie and Thomas stopped by the South Branch Elementary School last week on March 28 to share their experiences with students there.

Tommy is nine years old, and when he came up with the idea about the book he was just six.

His sister Melanie was nine at the time the book came out. She was born with a syndrome called Cornelia de Lange, (CdLS).

The syndrome makes Melanie smaller than other children her age and she has difficulty learning new skills, and speaking.

For example, it took Melanie nine years to learn how to jump with two feet, six years to say 20 words and five years to learn how to chew her food.

When Melanie was teased by her classmates Tommy decided to do something about it. With the help of his mom and dad, he created the story about himself and Melanie having an adventure with their pet rats. Other children were thrilled with the story and it was not long before Melanie’s classmates started to treat her as they would any other friend at school.

When asked by his mother what was next, after Tommy had achieved his goal of shedding light on Melanie’s situation, he said, “I still have to help all of the other Melanies out there.”

While Melanie and Tommy and their two pet rats were getting ready for the children at South Branch to come down to the gymnasium, their mother Nathalie Wending explained how far Melanie has come since she first appeared with Tommy to promote her story and the book. “She used to hide behind the rat cage,” remembers Wendling.

This time around, Melanie is able to take control of the moment and answer questions from the audience. Being able to talk and answer questions is something she was not able to do before. Part of the presentation has Tommy speaking sign language that Melanie is signing to him. The two children make quite a team.

Nathalie Wendling said the presentations help with raising awareness of CdLS but just as importantly, they give Melanie a chance to interact with other children. The presentation by Melanie, Tommy and their pet rats consists of a brief video of the rats in action doing their rat things like eating popcorn and floating in a boat in the bathtub. The children thought the antics of the rats were the funniest thing to see. Next came a slideshow of the actual story book which involves different adventures that the two children and rats have. To date, 6,000 copies of the book Melanie and Tommy have two pet rats and one syndrome have been sold at $5 each.

All of the proceeds from the book go back to raising awareness for CdLS syndrome.

At the end of the presentation, which included a song performed by the school’s primary choir, Tommy pointed out, “We are all the same in a lot of different ways and we are all different.” Melanie ended her comments with a quote from the book, “squeak,” she said.

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