Four-year-old UK girl, Ellie Dixon, is preparing to start school, but her mother Rachel Lynch says, she fears her daughter will struggle, drowned out by her classmates.
The little girl faces a daily battle to be heard, only able to whisper after suffering a potentially lethal vocal condition. Ellie was diagnosed with respiratory papillomas shortly after she was born in 2010. The disease causes non-cancerous tumours to grow on the vocal cords and voice box which means the four-year-old suffers regular operations to remove them.
AdvertisementWithout regular operations the lumps could grow so big and obstruct her airways, leaving her unable to breathe. Miss Lynch says, "Ellie barely speaks, and when she does, all she can manage is a whisper.
At nursery she was forever trying to answer questions yet her mates would always get in there first as they were able to shout louder. She knows the answer and puts her hand up but because she can only whisper she tries to shout out the answer but other children shout out first. Even at three years old, she would want to stay in the babies room because she was so scared of the older children shouting and screaming."
Miss Lynch adds, "Ellie never even plays team sports as she can't scream loud enough to get the other players attention.
When she is at birthday parties or sports days at school she often has to sit on her own because she gets frustrated when other children don't hear her. On some occasions when she is at the park playing on the jungle gym, she will come crying to me that the other children she doesn't know tease her because of her voice and she gets really upset."
The mother is now expecting teachers at Ellie's school will be primed to take extra care listening to daughter. Prone to diseases such as tonsillitis and ear infections which she can suffer from each month, Ellie fears her operations as she has developed a fear of needles.
As each operation date approaches Miss Lynch said Ellie's health diminishes and her voice gets croaky while her energy levels drop. The procedures last only one hour with Ellie under an anaesthetic as the surgeon burns off the growths on her throat. She is then put on a diet of ice cream for several days as her throat heals.
But even before the procedures Ellie struggles with liquid foods. It is unknown how the condition is began and cannot be tested for, however it is thought that the virus can be spread through the HPV virus found in cold sores, genital warts and some forms of cancer.
With the treatment, Ellie has a good chance of having perfectly functioning vocal cords. However, when she is older, she faces many more years of treatment.
Miss Lynch says, Ellie is still like any normal little girl. "She loves singing - even if you can hardly hear it, and playing with her friends, as she gets older her confidence is growing and it is just wonderful to see. We're just hoping school will help her find her voice."