Mother Jillian and Olivia Hotschilt, 16, want to raise awareness about her genetic condition, frontonasal dysplasia (FND), in the Northern Rivers Region.
Mother Jillian and Olivia Hotschilt, 16, want to raise awareness about her genetic condition, frontonasal dysplasia (FND), in the Northern Rivers Region. Jay Cronan

Olivia happy to be a normal kid

OLIVIA Hotschilt just wants to be a normal kid, but it seems some elements of our community won’t let her.

Born with the rare genetic defect craniofrontonasal dysplasia, which has wide-set facial features among its symptoms, the 15-year-old accepted herself long ago.

But others have not.

The bus ride from her home in Alstonville to her school at Richmond Christian College, Ballina, is hell.

She routinely endures verbal abuse from other children on the bus, who tell her she looks disgusting and that she is not normal.

They laugh and point and kick the back of her seat.

They have even thrown rubbish at her.

“It’s getting so tiring putting my brave face on,” Olivia said.

“I just want people to understand.”

Olivia has had to change schools twice before finding acceptance and friendship at her current school, where she has been a student for two years.

She sees a counsellor to help her deal with the cruelty she endures.

“Occasionally it gets to me and I hit bottom,” she said.

“I was getting a social fear.”

Olivia said having been born with a condition which makes her appear different to other people has made her a nicer person.

She has a deep capacity for empathy and a maturity beyond her years.

It has also given her insight into life, she said.

And despite all she endures, Olivia presents as a happy and normal teenager.

She loves the arts and dancing and hopes to become a photographer.

Olivia decided to approach The Northern Star in the hope that by telling her story she may find acceptance from the community.

 

Craniofrontonasal dysplasia facts

  • A very rare inherited disorder characterised by abnormalities of the head and face, hands and feet and certain skeletal bones.
  • Major symptoms of this disorder may include widely spaced eyes.
  • Craniofrontonasal dysplasia follows X-linked inheritance in most families, but females are more severely affected than males.