The families of some hometown "Wonder" Kids want to raise awareness, and end bullying

ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ7) The film, "Wonder" is coming out nationwide this Friday.
It's based on the novel by the same name that tells the story of Auggie Pullman, a boy born with a facial deformity, who's trying to fit into a new school.

Heather Ferraiuolo with her baby, Nash

In this week's Early Years, we're meeting a couple of real- life "Wonder" kids, right here in our hometowns.

Like most other two year olds, Levi doesn't sit still for long.

"He loves to be outside. He's our climber," says his mom, Jean Lin. "He's just kind of into everything. He likes to read books. He loves 'Paw Patrol', playing with cars.

Levi also enjoys playing with his big brother, Timothy.
But if you look closer, you'll notice some differences between them.

Before he was born, doctors diagnosed Levi with Apert Syndrome.

"It's definitely hard to hear that something's potentially wrong with your baby, especially since they didn't know what it was quite at first," says Lin.

The genetic craniofacial abnormality can affect the shape of a baby's skull, and fuse together their fingers and toes.

Treatment typically requires surgery, along with physical and occupational therapy.

It's extremely rare. Only about 1 in 200,000 babies are born with it.

For support, the Lins reached out on social media to other families dealing with Apert Syndrome.

That's how they found Heather Ferraiuolo.

Her six month old Nash was diagnosed after he was born.

"So scary, and we had no idea what to expect from that point on," says Ferraiuolo.

Like Levi, Nash will have surgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Apert Syndrome can also cause some cognitive delay.
But so far, Levi is meeting many of his milestones.

Both families are encouraged when they hear about other children with Apert Syndrome thriving into their teens, and beyond.

That includes a 16 year old in Bedford County.

"Their daughter has got her driver's license, and she's doing really well in school. So, that's really promising for Jean and I," says Ferraiuolo.

"We do see a lot of adults that are living normal lives, have jobs, families, "says Lin.

In this age of widespread bullying, both Lin and Ferraiuolo encourage people to educate themselves and ask questions about their boys.

And always, be kind.

"I want to tell everyone about Nash, because he's awesome. He's just like every other kid. He just has to have a few more surgeries than their kid does," says Ferraiuolo.

"That's the message to other people, too, is just to treat him with kindness, and treat him like you would anyone else," says Lin.

We have a link to more information about Apert Syndrome to the right of this story.