Thursday, May 6, 2010

Little People

In all my life, I don't think I've ever had anything to do with someone who has dwarfism, or "Little People" as they often like to be called. I've never met anyone, talked to them, anything. I've passed them in the street and noticed their short stature, but that's about it. It's only now that my daughter has been diagnosed with Skeletal Dysplasia that I've been learning more about the subject. If our daughter does pull through all this (and we're praying and believing that she will), she will most likely be a "little person" or dwarf as most people would say. (note - most people in the little people community find the term "midget" very offensive, so I won't use that term.)

Most people with dwarfism (I think about 80%) are born to parents of average height - that probably means that a whole lot of parents are just like me, thrust into this situation with little exposure to this disease. It also means that this situation is probably just as likely to happen to you (if you're not done having kids yet) as it was to me.

The most common cause of dwarfism is Achondroplasia. This disease accounts for 60-70% of cases. The average height of an adult lady with achondroplasia is about 4"1' (the same height as an average 7-8 year old girl). I don't think that our daughter has achondroplasia because usually it isn't able to be seen on ultrasound until around 25-30+ weeks of pregnancy, but our daughter's condition was evident much earlier at 17 weeks of pregnancy. I still think that most probably our daughter has Diastrophic Dysplasia - which is the third most common cause of dwarfism. The average height of an adult with DD is around 112 cm, or 44 inches, the height of an average 5.5 year old girl. Some of her features suggest that she may have a more mild case of it though. We should get a diagnosis once she is born.

I've been considering the role of little people in Hollywood and popular entertainment - and it seems like often little people are left to play the roles of leprechauns, or oompa loompas, or the angry dwarf that goes around kicking people in the shins. I don't think I have seen a movie where there was a little person who actually played an "everyday life" kind of a role. My brother tells me that there was a TV show which had a lawyer who was a dwarf - but I've never seen it. There are some reality TV shows that have included people with dwarfism, "Little people big world" is all about a family affected by dwarfism, there was Chandra on "The Amazing Race" (one of my favourite shows ever!!), there's another show called "The little couple" but I've never seen that either. You see a lot of other disabilities being used in various situations in Hollywood - there have been deaf actors and actresses, and compelling stories about their lives. People in wheelchairs, people with Autism and other similar conditions. I don't know why little people are still primarily in Hollywood to be laughed at. It doesn't seem very politically correct to me!!

Many people with dwarfism do not consider their short stature to be a disability, rather in the words of the opening credits of "Little People Big World", "we can do anything an average height person can; just in a different way".Yes there are obstacles of course - but a lot of them are more mental and social rather than physical. There are many people with dwarfism who live very successful, fulfilling lives. Some are doctors, some are lawyers - there is no restricting what they are able to do as their minds and souls are not affected by the condition which limits their bodies.

The next time I see a little person in the street, part of me wants to say to them "Excuse me, I noticed you're of short stature. My daughter is expected to have a form of dwarfism. Do you mind if I ask you a few questions? I hope I'm not being rude..."


  1. The Little Couple is an awesome show!! It's about Jen who is a Pediatrician and Bill who owns his own business. I'm not sure what kind of Drawfism they have, but Jen is VERY short and has what my mom calls a "mickey mouse" voice because it's so high pitched. I think it's a fantastic show because they both not only survived their condition but are thriving with college educations, good jobs, and making lots of money. Not at all crippled by their situation. Still reading, and still praying for you guys!

  2. i like watching "little people big world". it shows that dwarfs can still achieve what any other normal sized people can.

    pls follow my blog, if you like it. tah!

  3. My Name is Brandi and I also had a baby with a Skeletal Dysplasia, TD1. We have a Costco here and there is a little person that works there and every time I see him I want to cry, so know how you feel.

  4. Praying!!! :) Another show on TLC is Little Chocolatiers... happens to be little people too. I've watched Little People Big World and The Little Couple online here... it is nice to see how the families adjust :)

  5. Oh, I failed to mention that I have a cousin that has dwarfism! I don't talk to her much because I didn't get to see her growing up... Her father is my 1st cousin and he was murdered when she was a baby. But, I have a picture somewhere in the apartment of her when she was a baby and I remember holding her at least once.

  6. the few people i know with dwarfism would probably be tickled to have someone actually care enough to ask those questions.

    and i also love 'little people, big world'

  7. I think that it would be a wonderful idea for you to ask that question.

    As to the little people in film/tv - there is a famous actress Meredith Eaton who was a recurring character on Boston legal (possibly the lawyer you referred to) and she's been in lots of tv shows.

    Also Peter Dinklage is a famous dwarf actor - he is in a new Australian movie just released in cinemas called "I love you too" (which I want to see - thats what made me think of it!) and he has been in lots of theatre productions and movies - sometimes as the stereotypical "midget" and sometimes just as another actor (as in this new movie)

    Hopefully society is moving towards a time where they are no longer the funny stereotype.

  8. Peter Dinklage also did a really nice movie called The Station Master where the fact that he was a dwarf wasn't really any more than his hobby.

    He aslo appeared in Nip Tuck (as a Nanny/artist) and in a Tech Action series the name of which escapes me where he played a bit of a Tech Wizzard.

    So there are some roles for Dwarves which could be roles played by anyone, irrespective of height.

  9. The Little Couple is a great show, I've really enjoyed watching it. They are so cute together, and very successful. We were able to get in touch with a LP group in our area that has allowed us to get together with other LP and talk to them about Grant's issues. I don't know if they have something like that where you are, but it would be worth looking into. If not, I've been able to come in contact with some online.