'Wonder' tells the inspiring story of August Pullman, a boy with facial differences who enters fifth grade, attending a mainstream school for the first time. It's an opportunity for families to discuss how children can respond when they meet someone with facial differences.
by David Compa
A New York Times bestseller and now a well-reviewed film, Wonder tells the inspiring story of August Pullman, a boy with facial differences who enters fifth grade, attending a mainstream school for the first time. As the associated hashtag #ChooseKind suggests, the film is an opportunity for families to discuss how children can respond when they meet someone with facial differences or craniofacial anomolies such as Treacher Collins Syndrome. We spoke with Scott P. Bartlett, MD, Chief of the Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, about the film. He specializes in congenital and acquired deformities of the skull, face, jaws, and ears. What are some common misconceptions about understanding craniofacial anomolies such as Treacher Collins Syndrome? How did the film address this? The biggest misconception is that persons with a facial difference, including both appearance and functional issues, are challenged when it comes to intellect. As the movie portrays, this is certainly not the case, and may be the opposite. The film addresses this by showing that Auggie is in fact just like other kids when it comes to intellect, and even above the mean. The film also addresses the broad subject of prejudice, be it based on appearance or race or creed or whatever. It does a nice job of showing how it is best to just approach every situation with kindness and respect. You may be surprised at what you find. How is Auggie’s experience typical with 27 surgeries by the age of 10 for a child with Treacher Collins Syndrome? Yes, it’s not unusual for a child to have this many surgeries, as it effects many systems such as vision, hearing, speech, and chewing. How can parents talk to their children about how to respond when they meet someone with a craniofacial anomaly? I think the message for parents is similar to what I mentioned above. Approach with kindness and respect, get to know the person…you will likely be surprised. We also asked Peggy Featherstone, a Yardley mother of four adopted children from China with cleft lip and palates who are treated at Children’s, about the film. Featherstone and her husband Mark have four