October is national Dwarfism awareness month. There are an estimated 30,000 people in the United States and 651,000 internationally with a type of dwarfism. There are over 200 types of dwarfism. We use dwarfism to refer to the group but individuals are called little people. This month s a great opportunity to teach and share with children about diversity and embracing difference.
Important concepts for everyone to know about little people-
- They can do everything a taller person can do it just looks a little different.
- Because they are smaller, don’t treat a little person like a child. They don’t need to be picked up or carried or have their hand held unless its age appropriate.
- The Little People of America has cards that help encourage dialogue about dwarfism. visit LPA, The link is below. These are a great educational tool and you might like to get some. Or some of their materials for general awareness.
Here are some excerpts from a previous special needs information post
Dwarfism is a type of skeltal dyspalsia. Children are born with skeletal dysplasia and there are over 200 different types of skeletal dysplasia that can be described as dwarfism. Osteogenesis imerfecta falls under the skeletal dysplasia umbrella as well. Children with these conditions are described as ‘little people”, or as a “little person”. They may also be described as a person having dwarfism. Individuals with dwarfism are generally of normal intelligence
Dwarfism of skeletal dysplasia is caused by genetic inheritance or by spontaneous mutation. In general most children who have Achondroplasia are born to average sized parents. The other term we refer to is short in stature. That means having a height under 4’10 inches. Short stature can again be subdivided into proportional or non-proportional. This means is one part of the body is smaller as compared to the rest of the skeleton. In some individuals with skeletal dysplasia, upper arms and legs are smaller than would be expected. The most common and well identified type of dwarfism is Achondraplasia.
Achondroplasia accounts for 70 percent of the cases of dwarfism. There are several important complications to be aware of for individuals with Achondroplasia. Bowing of the long bones should be watched to maintain skeletal alignment. Children with Achondroplasia or other skeletal dysplasias can have spinal stenosis, narrowing of the spinal canal that contains the nerves. Surgery is the treatment for both of these issues if they are severe. Sleep apnea is common as well. There can also be issues with the teeth and frequent ear infections are common.
The most important thing to know about individuals with dwarfism is they can do everything an average height individual can do. Sometimes how these individuals do a task looks different, but they are capable of accomplishing what they set out to do.
If you want to learn more about skeletal dysplasia, you can visit http://www.lpaonline.org
We see Dwarfism as a common need on a waiting child list from China. So be aware, educate yourself and your children. It is possible that as you learn more you can have a heart for these wonderful waiting kiddos and be a Mom or Dad to a child with dwarfism.
If you would like information please contact Pat Marcus at firstname.lastname@example.org