Archive | October, 2018

Dwarfism Awareness Month, 2018

16 Oct

It’s October again – which means it’s Dwarfism Awareness Month – so, here’s my little post of awareness for 2018 (Note: previous years’ posts summarised and linked at the end of this post for those who may want to read them)!

This year I’m going to be highlighting how people with dwarfism (in particular, pseudoachondroplasia) can lead ‘normal’ lives in terms of careers, and are not limited to those stereotypical jobs many still associate with dwarfism (i.e. actors in pantomimes as one of the seven dwarves, a dwarf wrestler, or some other purely height based ‘entertainment’ type role). This topic was inspired by two recent events;

  1. There has been heated debate about the ‘Extreme Dwarfanator Wrestling Show’ (a touring wrestling show involving people with dwarfism) which has been cancelled in some venues in the UK over concerns of poorly representing people with dwarfism and promoting violence/negative behaviour toward this group of people too. The flip side of that argument came from those involved in the show itself, and others who saw things from their perspective also, that if these individuals have chosen to be involved in wrestling, then they shouldn’t be stopped from doing so because of their height (Personally, I can sort of see what they mean, but equally I think they could do with looking at the bigger picture and the influence that such shows may have on the public’s attitude toward people with dwarfism as a wider group – still, this post isn’t here for me to go on a rant about that – even if their original show title had the word midget in it! 😡). (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-45522480)
  1. I have had someone I considered a friend comment that their first thought when I mentioned doing a particular job was ‘whether I could reach, and would actually be able to do the job’. At the time, I brushed the comment off, but upon reflection, I think that just shows that even those who have had exposure to someone with dwarfism and their life cannot seem to think beyond the disability, and assume that just having dwarfism will stop an individual from working jobs. Something that for the majority of jobs, I personally feel is not the case for people who have pseudoachondroplasia!

Obviously, considering the joint pain that comes with pseudoachondroplasia, it’s unlikely that we (‘we’ being us with this type of dwarfism!) will pursue careers in intensive sports, jobs where standing up for hours on end is unavoidable, or anything where miles of walking each day are required – but, with some careful consideration about how a job role, or the workspace in which a job is done, can be adapted to meet our physical needs, we can set our minds to most jobs – dwarfism does not have to dictate our career choices, and we certainly don’t have to act in a pantomime, or ‘entertain’ average height people with our shorter stature. I’ve spoken with a number of people I know with pseudoachondroplasia, and the belief of the majority* is that we can do anything we set our minds to! To prove that point, I have asked a bunch of people with my condition to tell me about the jobs they’ve had, the careers they’ve led, and the things they’ve achieved that the general public may not think are possible for someone with a condition like ours – here’s a list summarising some of what people with pseudoachondroplasia I’ve spoken to have been doing:

  • Journalist
  • Social worker
  • Computer technician
  • University lecturer
  • Farm hand
  • Manager of television industry training schemes
  • School teacher
  • Digger operator
  • Script writer
  • Nanny
  • TV Production coordinator
  • Actress
  • Business owner
  • Author
  • Music Manager
  • College teacher
  • Event manager
  • Secretary

Some of the people I’ve spoken to also told me about other things they have achieved:

  • Motocross Racing
  • Various degrees in a range of subjects at all levels
  • Various professional qualifications in all sorts of fields
  • Engineering achievements
  • Pilot in training
  • Counsellor in training

… and these are just from the few people I asked. No doubt if I were to ask more, the list would only grow!

So, hopefully this little insight will change the assumptions that many ‘average height people’ make about people with dwarfism regarding their working potential. Obviously for those who have extreme pain daily, working can be more of a challenge in terms of identifying a suitable job, but that can be the case with people of a whole range of disabilities, and personally (not speaking on behalf of anyone else here with this comment..!), I believe that ‘where there’s a will, there’s a way’ and we should be trying to achieve all that we can, rather than dwelling on our physical limitations and thus limiting our own potential!

x

*I had a response from an individual with the condition that painted a less positive perspective, whereby he felt that people with pseudoachondroplasia should perhaps not aim for what may be their dream job, due to considerations of how the condition may worsen with age and thus affect their ability to work. Whilst I also believe that we must consider how our bodies can physically cope with particular job roles, I personally like to think that with enough adaptation, the majority of careers are not purely a thing to be dreamt of by people with the condition, and that we can usually fulfil job requirements one way or another! Obviously living with pseudoachondroplasia is an individual experience and I cannot speak on behalf of everyone in this post, so I thought I would include this note to make it clear I’m aware that limitations are different due to pain levels/surgeries had, etc. 🙂

 

**As promised, links to my previous Dwarfism Awareness Posts:

2017: I listed the little ways I have to change my life to live well with pseudoachondroplasia lifewithpseudoachondroplasia.wordpress.com/2017/10/01/dwarfism-awareness-month-2017/

2016: I summarised how my life has included a range of surgeries https://lifewithpseudoachondroplasia.wordpress.com/2016/10/

2015: I highlighted the physical differences that are associated with pseudoachondroplasia https://lifewithpseudoachondroplasia.wordpress.com/2015/10/

2014: I gave a few examples of how the condition impacts my life, in pictures https://lifewithpseudoachondroplasia.wordpress.com/2014/10/

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