‘Please help us help our little daughter live a normal life’

Six-year-old Sienna Houghton of Stopsley
Six-year-old Sienna Houghton of Stopsley

The little girl suffers from severe development delay, microcephaly (small head syndrome) and cerebral palsy as well as an unknown genetic disorder.

Tanya – a former HR worker – is fiercely protective of her firstborn and describes her as a vibrant, sweet-natured and energetic child: “She loves cuddles and going to the park. She’s also a big fan of Beyonce and Rihanna and as soon as she sees them on the telly she starts swinging her arms around.”

Now the mother-of-four and the children’s father Joseph Houghton have started a fundraising campaign to take Sienna to America for surgery that will improve her ability to walk.

“It’s quite successful and it’s called selective dorsal rhizotomy,” she explains. “But it costs about £65,000, “We’ve only just started fundraising and the whole family is on board.

“We’d also like to raise money to buy her things other children take for granted, like a bike and a swing.

“She can’t ride a normal bike and specially adapted ones cost around £1,600.”

In addition Tanya would like her precious daughter to have more one-to-one attention from dedicated therapists, as well as play learning sessions to improve her communication and speech.

She says: “God forbid something should happen to me – it’s my greatest fear. Because Sienna can’t talk, I’m scared no-one will understand her. It breaks my heart to think she may be frightened of something and they won’t know what it is.

“That’s why I’m trying to do as much as I can now so that she’ll be as independent as she can be.

“I hope her three brothers will look after her – they look out for her now. They’re only five, three and three months old, but I’m teaching them to love and care for her and involving them in her life.”

Sienna was 18 months old before Tanya was told there was something wrong. “It took a while to sink in,” she recalls. “Then I broke down when I got back from the hospital. I knew she wasn’t doing what other children did at her age but I thought she’d be fine.

“Mentally she’s very, very affected. She responds to one-to-one attention and goes to Lady Zia Wernher School which is helping with her vocabulary. I’d love her to be able to communicate her needs. But I don’t think she’ll ever be able to live independently.

“I’m trying to secure her future, She’s growing up so quickly and I don’t want to keep going to charities to ask for help. Let’s just say I’m worried but optimistic.”