Amazing Kids! Magazine

Dwarfism

By Akshaj Mehta, Sci-Tech Kids Editor

 

Have you ever been someplace where you have seen a person that looks small for their age? Let’s explore what causes this condition and the challenges it causes for those who have it.

When a person is an adult that is 4 feet 10 inches or shorter as a result of a medical or genetic condition, this condition is known as dwarfism. The average height of an adult with dwarfism is 4 feet. There are two main categories of dwarfism — disproportionate and proportionate. Disproportionate dwarfism is when a person has an average sized torso and shorter arms and legs or a shortened trunk with longer limbs. In proportionate dwarfism, the body parts are in proportion but shortened. Extreme shortness in humans with proportional body parts usually has a hormonal cause, such as growth-hormone deficiency, once called pituitary dwarfism.

All types of dwarfism can be caused by over 200 conditions. It occurs in approximately 1 in 26,000 to 1 in 40,000 births. Two disorders: achondroplasia and growth hormone deficiency (also known as pituitary dwarfism), are responsible for the majority of human dwarfism cases in the world.

Some Dwarfism Facts

  • Dwarfism is characterized by short stature. Technically, that means an adult height of 4 feet 10 inches or under, according to the advocacy group Little People of America (LPA).
  • More than 200 conditions may cause dwarfism, most of which are genetic. The most common type is called Achondroplasia .The characteristic features of achondroplasia can be seen at birth: facial features with a more prominent forehead, disproportionate short stature, with shorter arms and legs. Diagnosis of achondroplasia is made by physical exam and skeletal x-rays. Infants and children often have motor delays but normal intelligence.
  • Even in families where both parents are of average height, dwarfism can and most often does happen. In fact, 4 out of 5 of children with achondroplasia are born to average-size parents.
  • Dwarfism is not an intellectual disability. A person who has dwarfism is typically of normal intelligence and is capable of regular activities. Little people go to school, go to work, drive cars, marry, and raise children, just like their average-size peers.

To gain additional perspective on dwarfism, I interviewed my friend Aidan, a die-hard Star Wars fan who was born with dwarfism.

Aidan holding his “Star Wars Historian” Certificate of Recognition

Q: Tell me a little about yourself.
A: My name is Aidan Chase. I am 10 years old and stay with my loving parents and sister. I was born short, but I am full of energy.

Q: What would you like to tell all the children out there?
A: Life can be as good small, as it is tall.

Q: What are some misconceptions that kids have with you and dwarfism?
A: They think that because I am short, I have a learning disability, which is untrue.

Q: Have you had any troubles or problems due to this condition? If so how have you overcome them?
A: There are times, when things are kept higher, but I usually figure out a solution to reach them either by climbing or using a stool made for me. My chair in the classroom has a cushion so I can reach the table. People sometimes tease me and call me short and I always say, “Judge me by my size, do you?”

Q: Is there anything you would like to share?
A: I don’t think that people with dwarfism should be called “short kid.” I have experienced that and it hurts people’s feelings. When I get older, I will have fusion on my lumbar Polaris.

I would also like to share with you, my friends, that Aidan or any Little People enjoy all the same activities as we do 🙂 Aidan loves reading about Star Wars. He has a Wii U and Disney Infinity 3.0 and loves to play with his friends. His favorite subject is social studies. He also loves pizza and Fanta. Same here! In addition, Aiden loves to swim during the summer. Same here! He is a good gymnast, even though he has not taken any classes, he is able to move and jump around flexibly. Even though Aidan is short he is an amazing basketball player and has earned a medal for himself.

Aidan jumping in the pool

Aidan at the photography workshop

I hope that this article was informational and people realize that Little People are heroes in their own way as they overcome challenges in their everyday life.

Also, do not judge a person from their looks or stature.

Source:

Ms. Melisa Chase, Kidshealth.org

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