AT just four years old, Poppy Stanton has lost her ability to communicate the way most children do.
Unable to speak, it is her eyes that do the talking for her. Her hands are constantly wringing, she can't feed herself and at times walking can be difficult as she may stagger or stumble.
And, to add to all of those challenges, Poppy has just begun to have seizures.
All of these symptoms are that of Rett Syndrome, a rare neurological disorder that only approximately 200 Australian girls have.
There is no cure.
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Her mother, Courtney Stanton, said Poppy was first diagnosed with severe autism and it wasn't until after she started preschool at Carenne School that she was diagnosed with Rett Syndrome.
"Her teacher noticed that she had some traits of Rett Syndrome, because she'd had dealings with children with Rett Syndrome," Ms Stanton said.
"We voiced our concerns to our paediatrician at the local hospital and he ordered a blood test for us, which confirmed that she did have Rett Syndrome about six weeks later."
Following the diagnosis in May, Poppy's family met with the Rett management clinic at Westmead Children's Hospital.
Poppy had her first seizure less than two weeks ago, while she was at school.
"We really appreciated that she was in such a caring environment with people who had dealt with it before, because it is really overwhelming not knowing how to treat someone who is having a seizure," Ms Stanton said.
Poppy had another seizure later that night while at home with her family and they were able to help her through.
The challenge with Poppy's seizures is that, as her mother described, her body clenches and goes very still, which means devices that detect seizures aren't effective.
That's why a fundraiser is being set up to come up with the money needed to get her a Smart Pups assistance dog.
"[The dog can] respond, alert us and help with her recovery as well. The dogs are taught to comfort the kids after the seizure," Ms Stanton said.
The dog will also be able to help Poppy move around, as she might have mobility loss as she gets older.
Fundraising for Poppy was started by Lauren Lyons, a family friend and colleague of Ms Stanton.
"Courtney and Michael have become good friends of mine. We all work together and I've watched them go through this. Tests, diagnosis, doctors appointments, etc," she said.
"They are originally from South Australia and have no family in Bathurst, so I thought of trying to do something to raise funds for Poppy's pup. I have two boys and I couldn't imagine how I'd feel being told this news."
Fundraising will begin with a raffle. Prizes are being sought and already there has been a great response from businesses and individuals.
Ms Lyons said it will take a little while to finalise the raffle, but once it is ready tickets will be available to purchase.
She hopes to hold an event to draw the raffle at.
"What we thought we might do is have a little get-together at a local pub and get a room," Ms Lyons said.
"It would be a chance for people to come meet Poppy and Courtney and Michael."
A Facebook page, called Empowering Poppy, has also been set up so people can follow the progress.
Those who want to help can message the page or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
People can also donate money directly to Smart Pups via a bank deposit or through PayPal.
When doing a bank deposit, use one of the following codes: Poppy McCard, ppmccd, or 144215.
The account details are as follows:
- Account name: Smart Pups Westpac
- BSB: 034198
- Account number: 415185
Special thanks goes to the following businesses who have already donated to the fundraiser:
- Lisa's Creations
- BM Affordable Photography
- The Parenting Garden
- Mary Kay - Rebecca Ross and Natasha Smith
- Aimee Cook Photography
- M&J Designs
- Attipas Bathurst
- Simply Soft and Sweet
- Nic's Cupcake Place
- The Bodyshop - Kim Noviki
- Supercars Australia
- Burton Australia
- Ebsworthy Creations
- Big W (Cumberland Park, South Australia)
- JG Images
- Bathurst Furniture and Kitchens
- Beautiful You
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