Family Life

Bill’s Blog: Growing Up

posted: 07/18/13
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Bill at age 3.
Photos: Bill Klein and Jen Arnold

By Bill Klein | @ReallyBillKlein

Facebook fan Amber says that she and her husband are average height, and her son is a little person. She wants to know the best thing that they can do to help him in life since they have no experience with what kind of issues he'll face going forward.

From what I've experienced there are two different ways to divide it, there's the socio-climate, which is means regardless of the type of dwarfism you have, you're always going to be noticed, or picked on; or picked out in a crowd because of your stature. Then there is the second side, which is the medical side. The two lifestyle experiences join together often.

Often times, the biggest issue that people have is determining what the latitude is that they should afford their children in the way of physical limitations that they believe they have versus what they really do have. My advice to any parent is: with some medical care and some advice as to where the limitations are, let them do whatever they can. That was the approach my folks took. Of course, I grew up 30 years ago.

It was a different mentality then, and they didn't have doctors and resources like Google to go to for information. But, 30 years ago they did give you the latitude to fall, to get up, and to learn from it. Just like any other kid.

For any parent or anyone treating a person with dysplasia (the medical term for the condition more commonly known as dwarfism) there is always a level of caution that you have. If your child has some instability in the spine, you don't want to say, "Okay, it's time to go to gymnastics." I think that, within reason, you have to let any child try and do whatever they can, whatever they want to do, and learn where their limitations are on their own rather than set limitations for them.

When I was seven years old, all the kids in the neighborhood had started learning to ride their bikes with two wheels. I remember this because I had training wheels for quite a while. When I finally learned to ride a bike it was the day after my neighbor and best friend Andrea, who lived two houses down from me, came over to my house on her new two-wheel bicycle. When she pulled up into the driveway I dragged my mom and dad outside, and for the next 12 hours. The whole day we just practiced, I was determined to be on two wheels too. By the next day I was riding with the rest of them.

Then again, not every story has a happy ending. One time I was riding my bicycle to a friend's house up a large hill, but on the same street. My bike didn't have a coast or a free wheel, because it was customized for my size. So when riding down the hill I was peddling as fast as I could, because I was keeping the same speed I used when pedaling uphill. I blacked out because I got so winded, crashed my bike and broke my arm in a couple of places.

When it is all said and done, my best advice is to not be too afraid. They are going to be resilient, just like any other kid. Because they are just like any other kid, the physical limitations that they have are going to become apparent to mainly them, if to no one else.

Follow Bill on Twitter @ReallyBillKlein .

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