A mother has revealed her three-year-old’s son debilitating battle with dementia.
Joey Walton, from Wakefield, West Yorkshire, was diagnosed with metachromatic leukodystrophy (MLD), a rare genetic condition that causes fatty substances to build up in the nerves, organs, spinal cord and brain, as a baby.
MLD causes the loss of both physical and mental skills, meaning that Joey is unlikely to make it to the age of seven.
He has now lost all of the skills he had developed as a toddler – such as being able to walk and talk.
Speaking to The Sun, his heartbroken parents, Katie and Liam Roebuck, have said that their boy has had a significant decline in the past 12 months.
Joey had been diagnosed with metachromatic leukodystrophy (MLD), a rare genetic condition that causes fatty substances to build up in the nerves, organs, spinal cord and brain
Katie, 35, described the devastating moment Joey had stopped making progress as a healthy young child, which led her to contacting his health visitor.
She said: ‘In the following two months, his legs started to bend and his feet began to turn outwards.’
Liam and Katie then took Joey to see a physiotherapist, who immediately detected something was wrong when Joey could no longer sit up by himself.
Unfortunately, treatment has not been made an option for Joey, whose MLD has been detected too late.
If diagnosed at an earlier stage, treatment can aid in the patient having higher chances of survival.
Meanwhile, Katie and Liam are doing everything they can to make the most of the time their boy has left.
Katie said: ‘We’ve been on day trips out and he especially loved seeing the Gruffalo in Blackpool.’
The parents are also supporting a campaign that is calling for screening for MLD at birth for every child.
MLD causes the loss of both physical and mental skills – in Joey’s case, causing a significant decline in the past 12 months – meaning that he is unlikely to make it to the age of seven
Unfortunately, treatment has not been made an option for Joey, whose MLD has been detected too late, and could have been treated if diagnosed at an earlier stage
Parents Katie and Liam are doing everything they can to make the most of the time their boy has left, including day trips out to Liverpool to see his beloved Gruffalo
They have said that the campaign is worth supporting, as they could help prevent more families from going through the agony of losing their child at such a young age.
This heartbreaking case comes as recent research by the charity Dementia UK shows that, currently, 70,800 people are under 65 and classified as having young-onset dementia.
Although most people with the disease develop it after the age of 65, it can happen in younger people, too, leading to symptoms such as memory loss and confusion, as well as difficulties with problem solving and language.
‘I’ve seen patients in their 20s – the youngest was 18,’ says Dr Hilda Hayo, CEO of Dementia UK.
Younger people tend to develop rarer forms of dementia, and the younger the patient, the more likely their symptoms are to include non-memory skills such as changes in vision and language, behaviour or movement problems.