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Ellie* was 3 years old when the Healthy Kids Bus Stop came to her town in central NSW. Ellie was due to start preschool the following year and her mum, Carolyn, had concerns about her behaviour and speech development, so she took Ellie along.

Most days Ellie was a pretty happy kid, enjoying playing with her older brother and their dog.

But around mealtimes, she would completely change – she would lash out and begin crying, yelling and screaming.

Carolyn didn’t know what to do, she’d tried anything and everything to calm Ellie down and make mealtimes as stress-free as possible, but nothing worked, and the meltdowns continued.

Carolyn was at her wits’ end.

People outside of the family also struggled to understand Ellie when she spoke, and Carolyn was worried that Ellie wasn’t quite meeting her speech development milestones. She had been trying to book Ellie in to see an occupational therapist and a speech pathologist for the past year, as she hoped this might help uncover the root of the problems.Unfortunately, the health services in the nearest town – a three-hour round trip away – were fully booked.

They just couldn’t take any new clients.

When the Healthy Kids Bus Stop visited their local town, Carolyn hoped attending would give her insight into why Ellie was so distressed and help them find a way forward.

During their visit, Ellie received screenings from not only an occupational therapist and speech pathologist, but also an audiometrist, paediatric nurse, a dentist and a dietician.

The occupational therapy screening returned no significant concerns, and while the speech assessment noted some delays, these were quite minor and not enough to cause the outbursts they were experiencing.

However, during the oral health check, a discovery was made which hadn’t been considered. Ellie had no enamel on her teeth!

With no enamel, Ellie was in excruciating pain every time she ate or drank. It meant her teeth were extremely sensitive to heat and cold, so mealtimes heightened her anxiety and caused her to lash out as a natural self-defence response.

At the end of each day, the clinicians come together to formulate a complete picture of each child’s health. Through this process, the team were able to provide Carolyn with the appropriate referrals for Ellie.

Along with referrals to address the enamel hypoplasia and speech concerns, the team provided some suggestions and techniques to use in the meantime.

Carolyn was so relieved they’d visited the Bus Stop and that she finally understood Ellie’s distress.

“I feel like now I understand what’s happening I can help her. I’ve finally got the tools to move Ellie and the whole family forward. We’re even starting to enjoy mealtimes together again…it’s been a really long time!”

There are thousands more country kids like Ellie who are struggling with undiagnosed health and developmental issues.

Children who also deserve to be happy and healthy, and to have the opportunity to reach their full potential.

You have the power to unlock this potential. 

With your support country families will have the chance to understand their child and help them access the care they need. Please give generously.

*To ensure privacy and confidentiality for our client families, our stories are representative in nature and real names and images are not used. 

Your support means country kids can access the services they need to help them learn, thrive and grow.

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