A mum said she felt wonderful after hearing her daughter's only word in 18 years following her tragic diagnosis as a toddler.

Kathryn McComas said she knew something 'wasn't right' after giving birth to her daughter Melissa.

The new mum fought for a diagnosis for years before Melissa was eventually diagnosed with rare disorder Angelman Syndrome at the age of three.

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Angelman Syndrome is a rare neurological disorder which affects around one in 20,000 births. It can cause delayed development, severe learning difficulties, little or no speech and issues with movement and balance

Kathryn told the ECHO: "It affects every single aspect of her life. She can't speak, she has epilepsy, mobility issues, a poor sleeping pattern."

Kathryn also explained her joy when Melissa eventually did break her silence, saying just the one word in 18 years.

She said: "Her biggest frustration is definitely that she can't speak. She's said one word, she's said 'mama' when she was just 14 which is just absolutely wonderful.

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"She's really a trooper though, and she doesn't let the problems she's got stop her from doing amazing things everyday. Far more than we thought she would.

Melissa, now 18, lives with her mum and her big brother Jacob, in Eccleston, St Helens.

Teenager Melissa McComas was diagnosed with rare neurological condition Angelman Syndrome when she was three years old
Melissa McComas was diagnosed with rare neurological condition Angelman Syndrome when she was three years old

Mum Kathryn explained: "I have to take care of everything for her, take her to the toilet, dress her feed her, all that kind of stuff. So we very often couldn't really do things that Jacob wanted to do.

"It is hard for us, and it is just the three of us, and it is hard looking after her on my own but Jacob is a huge help."

Kathryn explained that the family struggled to get a diagnosis for Melissa after noticing something wasn't right when Melissa was around 12 months old.

She said: "She was my second child, and I know you're not supposed to compare children but you do subconsciously.

"She couldn't even sit up, she wasn't even attempting to try and support herself, she just used to sort of flop over, she would just cry and cry, she would never leave my side, and couldn't sleep for longer than an hour at a time."

"I took her to the doctors but they wouldn't really take me seriously at that stage. I just kept saying there was something wrong with her, these all manifested into a big worry.

"I started to Google and after many weeks I came across Angelman Syndrome, it is quite rare.

"I got them (doctors) to test for it, and initially it came back negative so I asked for a more sensitive test and it was positive."

Melissa's condition has no cure, only the symptoms can be treated, such as physiotherapy to help with walking, Melissa also has a tablet which she uses to 'talk' and communicate with her mum by pressing buttons on the screen which in turn, cause the tablet to speak to those around her.

Melissa completed a thousand mile walk for the Steve Prescott Foundation
Melissa completed a thousand mile walk for the Steve Prescott Foundation

Despite her condition, Melissa took part in the 1,000 mile walk for the Steve Prescott Foundation, raising thousands of pounds in the process.

Melissa's mum set up a Go Fund Me page with the hopes of taking Melissa on a dream holiday, Kathryn explained: "She absolutely loves Mickey Mouse so I think the obvious choice would be Florida if we can get there.

The fundraiser had a target of £8,000 and is currently sitting over the target at £9,160.

People can donate to Melissa's Smile Sunshine Holiday fund here