Alopecia is an autoimmune disease that affects hair growth on the scalp and entire body which results in minor or complete hair loss with slim chances of regrowth, for which there is no cure. For children especially, it is easy to imagine the detrimental psychological effects of losing hair can have on self-esteem and confidence.
Alopecia areata in children: ages five and younger
Preschool age children are so busy exploring the world, learning new skills, and becoming more independent, that they don’t pay much attention to their own physical appearance, or the differences they may have from others their age.
For this reason, children under five years old who have alopecia areata don’t usually experience as much of an emotional impact from their condition. They may see their own hair loss as something interesting, but not much more. And their friends at this age aren’t likely to notice, either.
Alopecia areata in children: ages six through 12
By the time a child is six years old, they’ve begun to interact with more people of all ages and have gained enough experience in the world to start noticing the differences between themselves and others. Between the ages of six and 12, children become much more aware of how others think and feel and they may begin to focus on how others see them, or how their condition may make them seem different from their friends.
All of this can make it difficult for older children to accept their alopecia areata. Self-confidence issues may begin to affect their experiences at school and with friends. Even children who have had alopecia areata since they were little may face new feelings and frustrations about their condition and have the desire to “fit in” with other children who don’t have alopecia areata.
As a parent, you can help your child educate classmates and teachers and address these feelings with the support of a group or even a professional counselor so that they can continue to feel confident about themselves, participate in the activities they enjoy and succeed in school.
I want to share a beautiful story about a little girl named Maci Huffsteltler that shows how she faced the many challenges of Alopecia and how reading Ella The Enchanted Princess Who Are You? helped her how to Always Believe In Herself and build her self esteem and confidence!
When you think of a superhero one normally thinks of Spiderman, Batman, or Superman, but there are superheroes that are regular people too! The definition of a hero is a person who does something special or out of the ordinary in order to help others. It could also be a characteristic that is admired about them. Normal everyday people look up to superheroes. A superhero is nothing more than someone who is a hero and someone who helps many people or leads them.
Most children dream of being a superhero. But Maci is a real live one! Why would you call Maci a superhero? Maci is a beautiful 6-year-old girl who has lost all of her hair to Alopecia. In the eyes of the people in this world, she has been labeled as different. By continuing to be her "normal" self, she has proven everyone wrong. Maci is a little girl that others looks up too. Despite losing her hair to Alopecia she has decided that she is not different, she is the same Maci Huffsteltler with or without hair. And through her daily challenges of Alopecia she has learned to Believe in who she is! That to me is a Real Superhero!
Having no hair has not stopped Maci from doing the things she loves. Dancing holds a special place in Maci's heart. Dancing has moral lessons. It teaches someone not to give up and to continue practicing until you learn the right moves. Maci did not give up because she lost her hair. She continues to take ballet and tap classes! Maci is a strong and passionate little girl who just wants to be herself. Maci loves to dance for everyone! When Maci is home, she is always playing with her baby dolls just like a little girl!
Maci is in kindergarten and her mom, Kari, homeschools her as well as her other siblings. Maci is lucky to have two older sisters and one younger brother that she can share her feelings with. She is lucky to be surrounded by a loving family!
What followed was the eventual devastating diagnosis of alopecia and within just one month Maci was completely bald. Kari said "Before we could get her to the doctor we were noticing more spots every day. That’s when she was diagnosed with alopecia. It was a shock to us and I full blown mourned her losing her hair. I cried multiple times a day and just could not understand why she lost it.
"Maci, however, handled losing her hair in a different way. She was very strong through it all. She just went on with her day like it didn’t bother her. "There has only been a few days when she has struggled with it but for the most part she handles it better than I could ever." Kari said, " We tell her all the time she is the strongest little girl we know."
She absolutely loves to go to church where she has the best friends. They have all been friends for years so they knew her before she lost all of her hair. Mom shares "I was afraid they would treat her differently but that was never the case. They still love her and they see Maci as Maci their best friend, not Maci the girl with no hair. And as a momma, nothing makes my heart more happy. She is a mommas girl for sure but loves her daddy to pieces also.
"Maci received Ella The Enchanted Princess Who Are You? from one of her mother's friend from church. Mrs. Lori bought the Ella The Enchanted Princess Who Are You? book for her. Mom states "When I tell you it helped her through losing her hair I absolutely mean it. I remember the night she gave it to us. Maci and I went to her room just her and I and read it together. I cried as I read it it was just so sweet." Kari continues, "I tried to hide Maci's spots under big bows and at the time the book came it was becoming harder to hide them. Reading how Ella finally realized she didn’t need the hats or anything she was beautiful on her own just really spoke to me. And thank you for the sweet sweet book truthfully it helped us through the hardest thing we have faced."
When Kari reached out to me to thank me I knew that I wanted to share this very moving story. Her mother shared with me what Maci said when she told her that I wanted to write about her. She squealed with excitement and said, "I knew I would be famous lol I will be in a book." Then Kari explained to her that I was writing an article and putting on my blog. Maci was still very excited! It is my pleasure to hear that Princess Ella could help someone like Maci and her mom get through the challenges of Alopecia.
True Princess Ella
Maci is a true Princess Ella her beauty shines from within, making whatever is on the outside unimportant. Her brilliant heart full of love, her kindness that she shows to others because she knows what it's like to be different and her unfailing hope are all her most precious gifts to those whose lives she embraces.
Maci already has everything she needs: a family that loves her, friends that support her and a community that accepts her for who she is.
"Maci has had a lot of regrowth over the past few weeks and we know our God is big and is healing her. We can’t wait to see her with a full head of hair again in God's time." Kari shared.
Ella The Enchanted Princess Who Are You?
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