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Leland Wicks, nine, has Treacher Collins syndrome, a rare genetic condition
The schoolboy has been bullied since all his life, with strangers calling him 'ugly'
His parents Andy and Samantha said they encourage him to poke fun at himself
This Morning viewers praised Leland's bravery, calling him a 'beautiful' little boy
Condition is the subject of a Hollywood film featuring child star Jacob Tremblay
Published: 07:49 EST, 13 November 2017 | Updated: 08:31 EST, 13 November 2017
A schoolboy bullied because of a rare facial deformity has been called 'beautiful' by viewers after an emotional television interview.
Leland Wicks, nine, was born with Treacher Collins Syndrome, a disorder that causes facial irregularities caused by under-developed bone and tissue.
Speaking on ITV's This Morning, Andy and his wife Samantha revealed how their son is targeted by cruel bullies who call him 'rat face' at school and said strangers stop and whisper in the street about their son.
Viewers praised the schoolboy as 'brave' and blasted those who made him feel self-conscious. One user posted: 'This kid is inspirational, if his condition isn't going to stop him, there's no way unthoughtful kids will.'
Treacher-Collins Syndrome is the subject of new Hollywood film Wonder, starring Jacob Tremblay as Auggie, a 10-year-old force to attend mainstream school for the first time.
Inspiration: Schoolboy Leland Wicks, nine, has a rare genetic disorder called Treacher Collins syndrome, which causes facial irregularities and affects just one in 50,000 people
Leland inherited the condition from Andy. It has left him with an underdeveloped ears, a cleft lip and a soft palate.
There was a 50 per cent chance that any child Andy and Samantha had would have Treacher Collins syndrome, but their first son Cameron was unaffected.
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Prenatal scans didn't reveal that Leland had the condition before he was born but it was diagnosed shortly after birth.
Proud: Leland with parents Samantha and Andy on This Morning today. Andy also suffers from the same condition but his facial irregularities are far less apparent
Support: Viewers took to Twitter to celebrate Leland for being 'brave' despite the bullying
Andy has the same syndrome but is less affected than Leland, who has more obvious facial irregularities.
Treacher Collins Syndrome: Signs and symptoms
Treacher Collins syndrome affects the development of bones and other tissues in the face.
Most sufferers will have underdeveloped facial bones, most notably the cheekbones, and a very small jaw and chin.
Some people born with the condition are also born with a cleft palate.
In severe cases, underdevelopment of the facial bones may restrict an affected infant's airway, causing potentially life-threatening respiratory problems.
People with TC often have eyes that slant downwards, sparse eyelashes, and notch in the lower eyelid, known as an eyelid coloboma.
Some affected individuals can lose their vision.
The syndrome is characterised by absent, small or
The couple revealed how strangers would 'stare and say things', with some even looking into his pram and telling them how 'ugly' their baby was.
Leland, who was a little camera shy during the interview, said he finds school 'difficult' because of the bullying he faces.
His father Andy had also dealt with bullying due to the condition, which affects just one in 50,000 people.
Andy said: 'I was the first one to take the mick out myself so they couldn't get me, I was called rat face and things like that.'
Mother Samantha finds the bullying more difficult to manage.
She said: 'As a mum it's harder because I see it all the time. I'm with Leland, Andy goes to work so I take him to school and pick him up.
'He'll come home and he'll say, ''I've been picked on today'' and Leland, he's my little boy, nothing will ever change Leland. It's very hard in ways.'
Leland said he'll 'tell the teacher' if he is being picked on, admitting that the bullying makes it 'sad'.
Samantha added: 'Sometimes he doesn't want to go to school.'
The parents have encouraged Leland to poke fun at himself so whatever the bullies say can't won't hurt him.
The schoolboy underdeveloped ears, a cleft lip and a soft palate due to the rare condition
'[We say] ignore them and if he has got a problem go speak to a teacher. We take the Mickey out of each and we deal with it like that,' Andy explained.
'Leland is my little chunky monkey and we call him that. People can't take the Mick then because he owns it. He'll say ''That's me.'''
Viewers were moved by the interview, with one tweeting: 'It's sad that it's 2017 and bullying is such a big issue. It's not hard to be kind to people. There is no excuse whatsoever to bully someone!'
Viewers were shocked by Leland's story, and tweeted to say he was 'inspirational'
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Source : http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-5077263/ITV-Morning-interview-Treacher-Collins-Syndrome-boy.html