Discuss as:

Clara's struggle: Girl with deformed face wants to be 'like the other kids'

Martha Irvine / AP

In this Feb. 6, 2012 image made from video, Dr. Nancy Young, of the pediatric otolaryngology division at Children's Memorial Hospital, examines 9-year-old Clara Beatty's hearing aids during a visit to the hospital's offices in Glenview, Ill. Clara, who was born with a genetic mutation called Treacher Collins syndrome, uses special hearing aids that attach with magnets placed under her skin because she has very narrow ear canals and only remnants of outer ears.

The Associated Press reports — What if you knew, even before your child was born, that she wouldn't look like everyone else?

Clara Beatty's parents knew.

Clara, center, with her mother Janet and sister Gretchen in their Winnetka, Ill., home. Photo taken Feb. 22, 2012 and made available May 3, 2012.

Prenatal tests determined that baby Clara, their third child, was likely to be a perfectly normal kid inside. But even in the womb, doctors could see severe facial deformities - droopy eyes, under-developed cheekbones and a tiny jaw. It meant she'd need a tube in her neck to help her breathe after birth. The lack of an outer ear and restricted ear canals also would mean she'd have hearing aids by the time she was 6 months old.

Learn more about Clara's condition, Treacher Collins syndrome

Now 9 years old and finishing the fourth grade, Clara looks forward to the day a few years from now when her skull will have grown enough for cosmetic surgery. It won't "fix" things, but likely will help her blend more - and possibly help her get rid of the breathing tube.

"I want to try to make myself as much like the other kids, so that I can stop having everyone asking me questions," Clara says, "because it gets so annoying."

But as her parents have discovered, Clara is quite able to cope, sometimes better than they. Even today, Janet Beatty is astounded at how well her youngest daughter navigates the world. Read the full story.

Martha Irvine / AP

Clara works on math homework on Feb. 22, 2012. She says math and reading are her favorite subjects. She hopes to be a doctor some day.