Denise Richards has revealed in a new interview that her youngest daughter has special needs.
The 47-year-old actress said she noticed that Eloise, now seven – whom she adopted as a single mother in 2011 – wasn’t meeting her milestones as a baby.
‘She wasn’t able to sit up on her own for a very long time, and she didn’t start walking until she was two, and that was with physical therapy,’ Richards told PEOPLE.
Richards – who is also mom to 14-year-old Sam and 13-year-old Lola with ex-husband Charlie Sheen – said Eloise was diagnosed two-and-a-half years ago with a chromosomal disorder that ‘has caused a lot of developmental delays for her’.
Denise Richards revealed her youngest daughter Eloise, seven (left and right), has special needs. Two-and-a-half years ago, she was diagnosed with Chromosome 8 deletion, which means part of the chromosome involved in brain development and function is missing
Richards said she knew something was wrong when Eloise was late in reaching developmental milestones including crawling and walking. Pictured: Richards (right) with daughters Lola (left) and Eloise (center) in December 2013
Humans typically have 46 chromosomes in each cell that are separated into 23 pairs – with one copy inherited from each parent.
Chromosome 8 has about 700 genes, many of which are involved in brain development and function.
Eloise was diagnosed with chromosome 8 deletion, a genetic disorder that means part of the chromosome is missing.
Facial features associated with the disorder include a small head, low-set eyes, a short nose and a small jaw.
Additionally, sufferers may experience a delay in motor skills, difficulty with speech, impulsive behavior and being hyperactive, according to the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD).
Back in 2013, Richards told OWN that Eloise didn’t start crawling until she was 15 months old and that she put her daughter in speech therapy.
In the new PEOPLE interview, the actress revealed her daughter’s developmental delays have continued.
‘She can only say a handful of words,’ Richards said. ‘I don’t know if [Eloise] is ever going to talk like a typical child.’
Those with Chromosome 8 deletion often have facial features including a small head and low-set eyes as well as a delay in motor skills and difficulty with speech. Richards says Eloise (left and right) ‘can only say a handful of words’
Richards adopted Eloise in 2011 and has two other daughters – Sam, 14, and Lola, 13 – with ex-husband Charlie Sheen. Pictured: Richards with daughters Sam (left), Lola (right) and Eloise (second from left) in December 2013
In some cases, those with chromosome 8 deletion have underdeveloped hearts and lung abnormalities.
First described in 1973, more than 20 cases have been reported in medical literature, NORD says.
There is no cure for the disorder and treatment currently focuses on therapies to speed up any delays including physical therapy, speech therapy and remedial education.
‘[There] are times when [Eloise] feels like her age in understanding, and then other times where it feels she’s emotionally three years old,’ Richards said.
‘It’s been challenging. I’m learning every day because [doctors] don’t really have a road map for her particular case.
‘Every child is different. You take care of your children no matter what is going on with them.’
She added that she puts her role as a mother above her film and television projects, including becoming the newest member of the cast of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.
‘I’m most proud of raising my kids, especially in a time that is very different from how I was raised,’ Richards told PEOPLE. ‘It’s extremely hard to keep children grounded. This is not an easy time to grow up.’