Our terrible little angel

By admin
11 February 2011

She likes dancing and singing and listening to pop music on her bright pink iPod and looks like a child any parent would dote on ? but when the demons in her head get going all hell breaks loose.

Then Grace Fishwick (9) of Birmingham, England, changes from a quiet, loving child into a raging terror. She lashes out, kicks and bites herself and her parents and tries to pull out her hair and nails.

These tirades can last anything from a few minutes to three hours.

They’re so bad her desperate parents have given her a padded room, with toys to comfort her, so she doesn’t get hurt during one of her outbursts when she hurls herself against the walls.

Grace suffers from Smith-Magenis syndrome (SMS), a rare genetic disorder that can transform her into a monster.

She has suffered from violent outbursts since she was a toddler and as she’s grown older the episodes have become worse.

It’s an incurable condition affecting only one in 25 000 children and is caused by a defect in the 17th chromosome. The syndrome is characterised by tantrums, learning difficulties, a curved spine, disturbed sleep patterns and behavioural problems.

“The only way I can describe Grace is to say she’s like Jekyll and Hyde,” mom Lisa Fishwick (33) says. “One minute she’s playing happily with her toys, the next she’s attacking us and herself.

“She’s a normal little girl who loves singing, dancing and everything pink. It’s like the old saying: when she’s good she’s very, very good but when she’s bad she’s horrid.

“Most of the time she’s a loving, caring little girl who goes out of her way to make her mommy and daddy happy. But she has these outbursts – sometimes up to 10 times a day – when she’s just out of control.

“We used to try to intervene and distract her but now we have learnt just to let them pass. She gets so upset afterwards if she has hurt one of us and keeps saying sorry and giving hugs.”

Read more about the challenges the family is facing in YOU, 17 February 2011.

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