I have a son who is funny, adorable, smart and just happens to be a Little Person. He was born with Achondroplasia; it is the leading cause of dwarfism. Thanks to many hard-working and talented people, the public at large has become more familiar with persons of short stature. Still, there are many misconceptions, misunderstandings and questions that average stature people have. I’d like to answer some of them.
• Around 80% of babies born with dwarfism come from average stature parents.
• They are of the same intelligence as the more general public.
• They are surgeons, lawyers, teachers, athletes, artists, journalists, and almost every other profession you can think of.
• The unemployment rate is higher than any other able-bodied group of people.
• The “M” word, or “midget”, is offensive to most little people. It does not refer to any one type of dwarfism. It is just a bad word.
• My son has a disproportionate type of dwarfism, that means his upper arms and legs, for instance, are shorter than average. He is perfectly proportioned for who he is, but is not the same, proportion-wise as taller folks.
• Persons with Achondroplasia, (Achons), compare equally in intelligence, talent, and ability to get the job done.
• Achons have medical issues, but rarely ask for assistance. They do have the same life expectancy as anyone else.
Those are the some of the facts.
Here are some myths:
• Little people love poking fun at how they appear to others.
• Little people only date other little people.
• They must agree with being called a midget or treated as one because they are always on t.v. dressed up as funny characters.
• Dwarfs cannot handle themselves in the workplace; they scare clients away and are always absent. They need too much special equipment.
After over 10 years, of being a member of Little People of America, I’ve never met so many people with the high work ethics, lust for life and just plain stubbornness to do whatever needs to be done, as I have in this organization.
I answer questions on a daily basis, practically, about my son. Once I answer their questions, I explain to them that he is probably the only little person they will ever meet in their lives. This makes them smile, they are happy that I took the time to answer their questions. And they usually walk away with a special look on their face like they’ve just been let in on a really cool secret.
If my son is the one answering the questions, the reactions are amazing to watch. People want to shake his hand, and thank him for talking to him. Rarely do people end our encounters with the same attitude they began them. They don’t say “Well, I’ll pray for you” or “good luck to you”. They end as all conversations should, “It was nice to meet you.”
My son and I were talking about it one day, and I told him that it won’t always be this way. “Not everyone will like you.” I told him once. (He thinks he’s all that so he answered, “Who wouldn’t like me!”) I asked him to Google the “M” word. He looked at the millions of results with his jaw dropped and, after a few seconds, burst out laughing and said, “They think we’re aliens!”
I guess to a young boy, with a giant ego who’s not been out in the world yet, that can be funny. He will find out, it’s not. He thought we should call everyone and tell them he’s not an alien….I said that would cost a lot of money. So he said we should go tell my friends on Twitter and G+ and Facebook and he said he’d tell his friends at Boy Scouts. I told him that was a great idea!