Caring

Shannen Findlay

A family's difficult journey: Meet the 7-year-old girl going through menopause

A family's difficult journey: Meet the 7-year-old girl going through menopause

At just four weeks old, little Emily Dover had grown a whole four centimetres taller in just a week.

Emily’s parents, Tam Dover and Matt McAuliffe from Woy Woy on the NSW Central Coast – who are both tall – were told by medical professionals their newborn girl was a reaction of her genetics.

However, a year-and-a-half later when Matt pulled little Emily out of the bath, he was hit with the smell of body odour and a little pimple on her face.

Not long after, the child began complaining of discomfort around her chest area.

“When she was two she started complaining that she had a sore chest and we thought, 'well that's a little bit different' ... and she was breast budding at the time and that came with cystic acne,” Tam explained to 10Daily and Studio 10.

Tam and Matt, with the help of doctors, investigated why their child’s hormones were developing at such a fast and unusual pace, and during that time they discovered Emily had autism and a sensory processing disorder.

“When Emily was about two or three she had such a yearning to have a child that there was a child at her daycare who called her 'Mum' and ... you see the yearning and the nurturing because the hormones are driving it,” Tam said.

“We all have had time to grow into our hormones and have life experience and know what is appropriate and what is not appropriate, and then you have someone who says I feel these things and then the joy of autism on top of it is that there is no filter.”

Then when Emily was four years old, she began getting her period.

Both Tam and Matt had starting hormone testing with their daughter when they had to teach the young pre-schooler how to use a menstrual pad.

Emily’s condition left a financial burden on the family, as injections were required to stop their little girl’s puberty from developing until she was old enough to undergo the changes – and cost both Tam and Matt $1,500 per month.

However, the injections failed to stop the growth of little Emily’s pubic hair, her breasts or halt her periods.

While the family have stopped with the injections and Emily is now going through menopause, she will still be treated symptomatically.

Despite the difficult journey for the family, Emily has managed to maintain her bright and positive nature at just seven years old.

Tam and Matt hope that sharing the story of their little girl will aid in raising awareness for other families and children who are going through similar hardships.