Being born different should never be a reason to be bullied. But sadly, that’s the reality for a lot of people, specifically young people. Austin Niehus knows all about that. He is a teenage boy that was born with a rare genetic condition known as Goldenhar Syndrome. The syndrome causes a craniofacial birth defect of the face as well as the head. It affects a person’s entire body.
According to chop.edu, the rare disease stops the features on your face from fully developing. That includes the incomplete development of the ear, nose, lip, and mandible. As a result, it fully affects how a person looks. But as the saying goes, you should never judge someone by the way they look. Even though Austin grew up with an endless amount of hardships, his family describes him as loving, smart and gentle.
Sadly, not all his peers see him like this. Because Austin doesn’t look like a “regular” teen, he has become the victim of seriously cruel bullying at a very early age. According to his story on TLC, Austin was constantly teased and taunted. He felt totally isolated from other kids and all he wanted was a friendship. Specifically, he wanted to meet others who had Goldenhar Syndrome. However, because this disease is so rare, he and his family knew that the chances were slim to none.
According to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, “Goldenhar syndrome is a rare congenital condition characterized by abnormal development of the eye, ear, and spine. It affects one in every 3,000-5,000 births. Children with Goldenhar syndrome are born with partially formed or totally absent ears, benign growths of the eye, and spinal deformities.”
But despite the odds of finding someone who suffered from the rare disease, Austin’s family were determined to find someone that would help Austin in dealing with the bullying. Someone that he could relate to. Finally, they found a young girl named Elena and reached out to her and her family. Eventually, the arranged a meetup.
Elena also has Goldenhar syndrome. Just like Austin, she struggles with her fair share of bullying. When Austin had learned that Elena would be coming to meet him, he was in awe. Just imagine, living in a world where even though you are surrounded by a lot of love and support, you still feel like you are alone. Then suddenly, you find that someone who can totally relate to you.
The video below shows the exact moment when Elena was arriving in Austin’s home with her parents and dog. You can tell that she was just as excited as Austin to meet someone like her. What’s even more heartwarming is that his parents were just as excited to meet her and her family. The families were also excited to relate to parents whose child was born with the same syndrome as their son. Check out the heartwarming video below!
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