The mum of a boy born “with no eyes” has revealed the horrendous trolling they have faced.
Christian Buchanan, from Tennessee, USA, was born with amniotic band syndrome, which is when strands of tissue wrap around the developing foetus.
The 11-year-old had facial clefts from birth, which affected his eyes, lips and nose, as well as development delays and blindness.
Since Christian’s birth, he has had 12 surgeries and cleft repairs.
Sadly, along with Christian’s physical differences, he and his family including his parents Lacey and Chris, have dealt with horrifying abuse from strangers both online and in their day-to-day life.
“Someone commented on one of my TikTok videos that I should have aborted him and that I have no concern for his suffering,” Lacey told NeedToKnow.Online.
“Someone else said I should ‘put him down like a dog”.
The family has also faced abuse in their day-to-day lives by people passing by.
Lacey said: “The prejudice has happened offline too; when Christian was a baby, someone asked to see him but when they looked over into his car seat to do so, gasped and jumped back as if he was going to hurt them.
“I hate that he’s had to struggle but I try not to dwell on it, because that doesn’t do any of us any good.
“But I don’t want Christian to ever feel sorry for himself or think he can’t do something he wants to do, so even on the hard days, we just cry if we need to, pick ourselves up and keep moving forward.”
Lacey, who works as an attorney, wants to be more open about the difficulties of Christian’s condition – especially his loss of sight.
She said: “When Christian was born, our entire way of life changed, and there was no way to prepare for it.
“We had a certain idea in our minds of what parenthood would look like, and it was nothing like that.
“It was hospitals and medical equipment and doctors and not at all what we expected or wanted.
Due to complications in his condition, Christian didn’t walk or talk until he was three-years-old.
He still attends physical and speech therapy every week and has to eat via a feeding tube.
The loving mum said: “We had a certain idea in our minds of what parenthood would look like, and it was nothing like that.
“It was hospitals and medical equipment and doctors and not at all what we expected or wanted. We had to do whatever was best for Christian, but it didn’t mean we didn’t mourn the loss that was there.
“I will always feel grief over the fact that Christian doesn’t know what I look like, or that I can only describe to him the beauty of a sunset.”
She added that he knows he is not exactly like anyone else but she says they are always “extremely careful to always make sure he knows that that isn’t a bad thing”.
Christian has been playing the violin for the last five years and his parents have signed him up for Miracle League baseball, a US league specifically for people with disabilities.
He will continue to repair his cleft symptoms as he grows and matures.
Lacey said: “Christian loves himself. He doesn’t wish to be any different than he is.
“Although he knows he’s not exactly like everyone else, we have been extremely careful to always make sure he knows that that isn’t a bad thing.
Christian is also older brother to nine-year-old Chandler, who is his “best friend”.
She added: “His brother, Chandler, is his best friend. They can definitely fight like brothers, but they love each other so much.
“Christian relies on Chandler as a companion and Chandler is the best at helping Christian understand things that he can’t otherwise understand because of his disability.”
Lacey has been sharing Christian’s story online since he was born, in a bid to teach others about his condition and fight against ableism.
She said: “There are people out there who actually think disabled people shouldn’t even be allowed to live, and at a minimum, shouldn’t have the rights the rest of us deserve.”
Although the family faces a lot of online abuse, Lacey says she will ‘never stop posting’ about her son.
Lacey said: “If I’ve just run out of patience, I’ll tell them exactly how horrible of a human they are and how their response to my child is intolerable, ableist and unacceptable.
“Disabled people are here, they exist, and they will have a place at the table as long as I am around to fight for it.”
Despite the trolls, Christian also gets a lot of positive comments from supporters sharing love.
She said: “It’s incredible and it gives me hope that the good outweighs the bad and that the world and our culture is shifting to be more friendly and accepting of disabled people.
Christian also uses the platform to share his positivity.
Lacey added: “Sometimes he will ask me to take a picture or video of him doing something and share it to Facebook, especially if it’s something funny, and then he’ll ask me if everyone is laughing.
“He loves to make people laugh, so often he will tell jokes and have me post them.”