Family spreads message of acceptance

Being accepted by others is a natural human desire, but it's not often easy for the 100,000 children born each year in the United States with facial differences, according to the Children's Craniofacial Association.

Dave and Vivian Kudej of Shelton understand this quite well. Their youngest son, Tyler, was born in September 2010 with a craniofacial condition called a Large Congenital Melanocytic Nevus. A LCMN is a rare birthmark that occurs in approximately one in every 20,000 births, according to Vivian Kudej.

Tyler has a facial nevus that covers his right cheek. People born with LCMN are more likely to develop melanoma and in a small percentage of cases pigmentation cells can also be found on the brain and spinal cord — a complication of the large nevi. Having a facial difference like Tyler's can cause psychological challenges, so for support, the family is part of Nevus Outreach and Children's Craniofacial Association.

September is not only Tyler's birthday month, but it's also Craniofacial Acceptance Month.

The theme of this year's campaign is "Beyond the Face is a Heart."

Each year approximately 100,000 children are born in the United States with some form of facial difference. In many cases, reconstructive surgeons can correct these problems early-often while the children are still infants. In other cases, however, reconstruction is not so easy or even possible. Children's Craniofacial Association (CCA) is the premier organization that supports these children and their families.

It's not often easy for those with facial differences, particularly at school, on the playground and in social settings. Programs helping children —and adults — to look beyond differences and search for similarities will take place across the country during September.

To learn more about CCA and its programs, visit