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Dwarfism is a medical condition. People with dwarfism are as smart and capable as anyone else. They use the terms dwarf or little people to describe themselves. In general, they don’t like the word midget.
- The group Little People of America defines dwarfism as someone who is 4’11” tall or smaller because of a genetic or medical condition.
- There are two main types of dwarfism – disproportionate dwarfism and proportionate dwarfism. In the first, a person’s trunk might be a typical size but the legs and arms are shorter. Sometimes a person’s trunk is shorter and the arms and legs are longer. In proportionate dwarfism, the arms and legs are in proportion to the body, but the person is just small.
- More than 200 conditions can cause dwarfism. A lack of human growth hormone is one cause. In most cases, though, genetics cause dwarfism.
- In achondroplasia, the most common form of dwarfism, the trunk is a typical size, while the upper portions of the arms and legs are shorter. Achondroplasia happens occurs in about one in 26,000 to 40,000 births.
- People with achondroplasia often have short, flat feet, crowded teeth, and large heads. Rarer forms of dwarfism can cause weak or deformed hands and feet, cleft palate, or spinal problems.
- Children with dwarfism don’t want sympathy, but they do want friends, just like everyone else. They might need help with certain physical activities, but it’s a good idea to ask first. Most kids like to do things themselves as much as possible.
- Deformed: shaped differently
- Proportionate: every part is the same size and scale
Questions and Answers
Question: A child in my class has dwarfism. How should I treat her?
Answer: Just as you would any other child. Call her by her name. Do not call her a baby or try to pick her up. Find out what she likes to do and what she’s good at. Chances are, you’ll probably enjoy some of the same things.