Living with Dwarfism
Life for people with skeletal dysplasia is getting better, thanks in part to the renowned research and care of a local children’s hospital.
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Being a little person creates bigger ramifications than needing to have pants shortened or having trouble finding fashionable women’s shoes. It means watching your weight more closely because a few extra pounds adds up faster on a smaller frame. It can mean having to take a child’s dosage of medicine while also facing several health problems such as breathing, digestion and brittle bone disorders. It can mean having trouble reaching light switches, door handles, and countertops. But mostly, it means having to be a little more creative and a whole lot more tolerant.
“There’s always that one person who’s going to push it further,” says Roland Stone, of Milford. At 4-feet 2½ inches, Stone has one child who is a little person and two who are average size. He remembers going to school to talk to his son’s peers because his son was being teased for having a short father. It didn’t take much for this former actor, accountant, salesman and computer specialist to turn the kids’ attitudes around with a simple non-confrontational talk. He became Mr. Stone, not just some little guy.
Several members of the LPA speak to school groups to help spread understanding. “If you ain’t got the character to suck it up, you ain’t going to make it. You are out there setting an example for every other little person, especially with children,” says Stone.
In fact, the one commonality among the people interviewed for this article is they say they have learned to live with being the center of attention. They don’t mind talking about their size, and actually prefer it to long stares and hushed comments.
“I say, let it go,” says Lizzy MacDonald, who has an easier time dealing with people watching her than some of her friends do. “I just laugh about it. It’s not my problem.”
For Lizzy, being smaller than 3 feet tall means she has a different perspective on the world both literally and figuratively. “She does more, as far as physical activity is concerned, by the time she starts her coffee than most people do in a day,” says Beth MacDonald, Lizzy’s mother. “Lizzy is one of the toughest kids I know.”
Lizzy’s day is a balancing act of timing and planning. While making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich might seem an easy task to most people, for her it’s a 30- to 45-minute process. She’s supposed to use her crutches and step stools to get around the house, yet she sometimes climbs into the refrigerator or up some shelves to get what she needs. She says she just can’t wait for things to happen sometimes.
Her mother attends school with her because it is just too difficult for Lizzy to get around alone. There is the loading into and out of the car, the rearranging of desks to find Lizzy a seat and then the cleaning of the table, since she gets infections easily. She does it all with a smile and a laugh.
Page 3: Living with Dwarfism, continues...