Unlike most children, five-year-old Makaila Bald has never encountered another person who looked like her.
That was until last week when she attended her first National Convention of the Short Statured People of Australia.
Makaila made the trip with her Nan and Pop, Lyn and Peter May, and her older brother Xavier Bald as her father Reese Bald and step mother Calais Tink had harvesting commitments. Lyn became emotional when she saw her grand daughter’s face while at the convention.
“The biggest thing for me – and it brought a tear to my eye – was getting off the bus with Pete’s family and having a group of adult little people there… and [Makaila] actually turned to me and said ‘Nanna, there’s people just like me’. She knew instantly that they were like her and she’s only five and a half so I found that extraordinary that she recognised it straight away,” she said.
Makaila eagerly recounted visiting Taronga Zoo, going whale and dolphin watching, and the 60s themed disco. Lyn said it was both informative and informal, more like a holiday camp with lots of children.
“She fitted in very well, she’s very social and clearly she’s adorable and that’s not just my bias, she’s very special in her own way,” she said.
“Short stature and regular children just intermingling, playing together, doing activities, everyday they had something different planned,” she said.
“It was a good opportunity for us to see children with the same condition as Makaila, it’s very enlightening.”
Mr Bald said Makaila’s specific condition was called Acromesomelic Dysplasia Maroteaux.
“Basically it’s just short-limbed dwarfism, it doesn’t come with too many major health issues or genetic markers and that’s why they had so much difficulty diagnosing her,” he said.
While Makaila was away her parents modified five-year-old’s room to make life a bit easier, which included lower the bed and clothes hangers, which Makaila eagerly shows off to visitors.
Makaila can’t wait to get back to school and tell all her friends about the journey.
Especially seeing as October is dwarfism awareness month.
“The geneticist did tell us he’s pretty sure she’s the only one with it but there could be a couple of kids diagnosed with it shortly if not already in the eastern states,” Mr Bald said.
But he did say she’s probably the only one in Australia and it’s incredibly rare.”
Ms Tink said Makaila was only recently diagnosed because she doesn’t display the usual characteristics of a child with Dwarfism.
“Most of the testing’s happened in the last 12 months with the x-rays and and they can see how she’s progressing,” she said.
“From the recent x-rays they’ve been able to diagnose her only a couple of months ago.
Mr Bald said they planned to take Makaila to next year’s convention in Townsville.
“Obviously being in Esperance, as far as we’re aware there’s nobody with dwarfism down here other than Makaila,” he said.
So it was mainly just a really good opportunity for her to meet other people and be a bit more aware of the fact that there is other people out there just like her.”
Ms Tink added, “I think it’s more important for Makaila now that she can go back to school and tell her friends about it as well.”