October is National Dwarfism Awareness month. I am constantly getting questions about being a little person, so I thought what better month to address some of these common questions from my perspective.
Are your parents little?
My parents are both average height, and so is my older brother. Anyone can have a child with dwarfism. Little people can be born to average height parents. It is about a one in 25,000 chance that this happens. For a little person and an average stature person it is a 50/50 chance. And for two little people there is a 25 percent they will have an average height child, a 50 percent they will have a child with dwarfism and a 25 percent chance that both parents would pass on their dwarfism gene which results in the child dying before, or shortly after, birth.
Is dwarfism a disability?
It is technically termed a disability, but it has never disabled me from doing something that I really want to do; I just sometimes have to do it a different way than most people.
Is there a cure for dwarfism?
No, and there is no way to prevent dwarfism since it is caused by genetics. However, some little people choose to undergo limb lengthening. This is when the bones are broken and extended. It is a long and extremely painful process. Personally, I do not agree with it, but some little people choose to do it and that is their decision.
How many types of dwarfism are there?
There are 200 different types of dwarfism. I have the most common type of dwarfism: achondroplasia.
What medical conditions come with being a little person?
A lot of little people have breathing problems; I had this when I was little. They are also more susceptible to ear infections. Some little people have curved spines or spinal compression. I had spinal compression when I was 10-years-old and had to have two surgeries to remove a piece of my skull and fuse my lower spine.
How do you feel about little people who play elves?
The public portrayal of little people is often a negative one. Whether it be little people dressed as elves, midget wrestling, or dwarf tossing. This view of little people as objects, or non-human, honestly disgusts me. There are little people who take on these roles or jobs, and I do not agree with that decision whatsoever. By other little people taking on jobs such as these and making the public think we are all okay with this portrayal of us, it continues to affect my life and the way that people see me.
Can I take a picture with you or of you?
What terms do you prefer?
Little person is the most widely accepted term. The word midget is considered by most to be offensive because it was coined for little people when they were displayed in circuses and "freak" shows. Or you could just call me by my name.
How has being a little person affected your life?
It, honestly, hasn’t affected my life very much. I grew up in a wonderful and supportive community where being a little person was never an issue. Some little people, however, face bullying at their schools and in their community.
Do you like being little?
I have been so lucky to find people who love me and cherish me for who I am which makes being a little person a lot easier. It is only when I am in public that I feel uncomfortable with being a little person. On a daily basis, I get anything from stares, pointing, laughter, rude comments, or people taking pictures of me.
Once, when I was little, I was upset about something someone had said to me. My mom took me aside and asked me that, if it wasn’t for what other people thought, would I mind being a little person and I said no.
So, I honestly don’t mind being a little person at all. But, I just wish everyone treated me the way my friends and family do. They don’t see me as small. They see me for me. By spreading awareness about dwarfism we are continuing to spread the message that little people are just like anybody else.