Dwarfism Awareness Month is halfway through, but the education and awareness doesn’t stop there! Many friends have asked what I mean about Addie having her own history, culture, different from my own. I could talk about it for a long time, but I will summarize my thoughts and feelings:
Addie is Dave and my biological child. She is a beautiful mix of Treat and Butler and Worth and Noonan and Martinka. She’s got Italian and Russian and Polish and Welsh and Scottish and Irish blood. Her eye brows have literally been cloned from Dave, her hair a coloring of strawberry blond all her own, with curls that make others green with envy. Her attitude and tenacity have been apparent since birth- a proud trait I know my mom and I have passed onto her. She is mentally and physically so much of us.
But she is also all her own.
A history of dwarfism
There is a part of her history that is not my own. My history with dwarfism begins when the FGFR3 gene didn’t form typically. My history is my pregnancy, her birth, my induction into a community of people who have become family. But Addie? Her story is her own. She has a form of dwarfism, and that part of her has extended centuries, and is my duty to share that with her, as her parent. To give her the whole history of herself, not just the pieces that are my own.
Little People of America began in 1957 when famous actor, Billy Barty, made a national public appeal for all little people in America to join him for a gathering in Reno, Nevada. Mr. Barty and 20 other little people joined together and Little People of America was formed!
To ensure I know how to answer her best and to learn and navigate a world that is not my own to dictate, I’ve started my own library at home. There is a complete reading list of:
Fiction with Dwarf Characters
Parenting and Children’s Books
Living with Dwarfism Essays
So, from this, and the advice of many LP women my initial reading list is a mix-basket of parenting books, medical information, history, something for Addie, and personal anecdotes.
What’s on my reading list?
Dwarfs Don’t Live in Doll Houses
In this book, you’re offered a unique opportunity to see personal, family, school and public life through the eyes of someone with dwarfism. This perspective makes the account authoritative, instructive, moving authentic, and revealing.
Author Angela Muir Van Etten, is deeply committed to the cause of short-statured individuals and has served as President of the Little People of New Zealand, on various committees of the Little People of America, and as a spokesperson on many regional and national talk shows.
Little People in America
This is the fascinating account of the everyday life of a group of people who are typical Americans, but bear an unusual and stigmatized status in this society where above average height is highly prized. Through life chronicles of dwarfs and descriptions of the dynamic group: Little People of America. This book presents the psychosocial aspects of dwarfism, for the first time.
Although many people with dwarfism have shared the common barriers of misunderstanding, nonacceptance, curiosity, and ridicule in the average-sized world. Author Ablon’s research, in contrast to that of other scholars, shows that this has not resulted in broadly discernible personality patterns among people with dwarfism. She has found, instead, that their lives form unique mosaics of varied interactive factors that have influenced their ways of coping with dwarfism and finding personal satisfaction.
Personal note: I liked this book for the insight it gave me to the LPA.
The Lives of Dwarfs: Their Journey from Public Curiosity toward Social Liberation
Historically, they have borne the labels “freaks” and “oddities”; they have been collected as pets, displayed as spectacles, and treated as comic relief. Now, for the first time, in this elegant and comprehensive volume, the lives of dwarfs are explored in all their fullness and humanity.
Spanning the centuries from ancient Egypt to the present, this unique social history chronicles the various ways this population has been exploited, describes their strategies for coping, and notes the persistent influence of mythology upon perceptions of them by others. The narrative also highlights the lives of eminent individuals and contains a thought-provoking account of the representation and participation of dwarfs in the arts, enhanced by outstanding color photographs. Betty M. Adelson, the mother of a daughter with dwarfism, brings special insight and sensitivity to the research. She traces the widespread mistreatment of dwarfs over the centuries, engendered by their being viewed as curiosities rather than as human beings capable of the same accomplishments as people of average height, and deserving of the same pleasures. For much of their history, dwarfs have resorted to exhibiting themselves: because of social stigma no other employment was available.
Only in recent years have short-statured individuals begun to challenge their position in society. Medical advances, new economic opportunities, and disability legislation have led to progress, mainly in Western nations. Advocacy groups have also formed in countries as diverse as Chile, South Korea, and Nigeria. Adelson compares what she refers to as the “small revolution” to similar social and cultural awakenings that women, African Americans, gays and lesbians, and persons with disabilities experienced when they identified themselves as a community with shared goals and obstacles.
Written with passion, grace, and the dignity that the subject deserves, The Lives of Dwarfs will not only revolutionize current perceptions about the historically misrepresented dwarf population, but also offer pause for thought on issues of disability, medical treatment, height, beauty, and identity.
The Little People
Cromie’s amiable text describes the humorous and poignant adjustments that little people have had to make, and complements the quite rare and extraordinary photographs collected by Hy Roth, whose genuine enthusiasm provided new photography sources for this book
Dwarfism: Medical and Psychosocial Aspects of Profound Short Stature
This landmark volume is the first to trace the exciting developments in the field of dwarfism research and treatment over the past century―particularly during the past fifty years. Dr. Betty M. Adelson, a psychologist, has unearthed and synthesized the most significant information about dwarfing conditions, from articles written a century ago to current books and specialized databases.
Highlighting the outstanding contributions of Dr. Victor McKusick and several of his colleagues, Dr. Adelson reveals how dwarfism specialists have helped redefine the nature of medical care―transforming it from an authoritarian enterprise into a holistic, collaborative venture among physicians, affected individuals, and their families.
The parent of an adult dwarf daughter, Adelson examines the social forces that affect the dwarfism community. She offers personal descriptions of the day-to-day challenges dwarf individuals face and portrays their accomplishments. Insightful and accessible, this work will prove a valuable resource for affected individuals, their families, and medical professionals―physicians, nurses, genetic counselors, social workers, psychologists, and medical students.
Life Is Short (No Pun Intended): Love, Laughter, and Learning to Enjoy Every Moment
From the beloved stars of TLC’s The Little Couple comes an uplifting and moving behind-the-scenes account of how the pair met, fell in love, and overcame huge obstacles to become successful professionals and parents.
Jennifer Arnold and Bill Klein have inspired millions as stars of TLC’s hit show The Little Couple. Though they both have dwarfism, they have knocked down every obstacle they have encountered together with a positive, can-do attitude. The show has featured the lives of Jennifer (a respected neonatologist) and Bill (a successful entrepreneur) from their marriage in 2009, to the launch of their pet shop, to the adoption of their children, to Jen’s overcoming cancer.
Now, for the first time Jen and Bill are letting readers into their private lives with behind-the-scenes, never-before-told stories about how they fell in love, what inspires them, and the passions that drive their success. They will open up about their struggles with cancer, infertility, adoption, and simply living life in a challenging world.
Jen and Bill have a simple purpose in life: make the world a better place through encouragement and education. A must-have for fans of the show or anyone who has ever faced a difficult obstacle, Life Is Short (No Pun Intended) gives readers a glance at what inspires these positive people to approach life with such optimism and share their lives with the public every day.
The Thing About Georgie
As far as Georgie is concerned, everyone has a “thing”.
The thing about poodles is that Georgie Bishop hates to walk them.
The thing about Jeanie the Meanie is that she would rather write on her shoe than help Georgie with their Abraham Lincoln project.
The thing about Andy’s nonna is that she kisses Georgie’s cheeks and doesn’t speak one word of English.
The thing about Georgie’s mom is that she’s having a baby—a baby who will probably be taller than Georgie very, very soon.
The thing about Georgie . . . well, what is the thing about Georgie?
Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon
Be yourself like Molly Lou Melon no matter what a bully may do.
Molly Lou Melon is short and clumsy, has buck teeth, and has a voice that sounds like a bullfrog being squeezed by a boa constrictor. She doesn’t mind. Her grandmother has always told her to walk proud, smile big, and sing loud, and she takes that advice to heart.
But then Molly Lou has to start in a new school. A horrible bully picks on her on the very first day, but Molly Lou Melon knows just what to do about that.
Giants: the Dwarfs of Auschwitz: The Extraordinary Story of the Lilliput Troupe
Giants: The Dwarfs of Auschwitz is a moving and inspirational story of survival, of a troupe of seven dwarf siblings, whose story starts like a fairy tale, before moving into the darkest moments of their history; the darkest moments of modern history. At a time when the phrase ‘survival of the fittest’ was paramount, the Ovitz family, seven of whose ten members were dwarfs, less than three feet tall, defied the fate of so many other Holocaust victims. The irony was that, doubly doomed for being Jewish and disabled, it was their dwarfism that ultimately saved their lives. Authors Yehuda Koren and Eilat Negev deftly weave the tale of this beloved and successful family of singers and actors, the Lilliput Troupe. Their dazzling Vaudeville program, the only all-dwarf show at the time, made them famous entertainers in Central Europe in the 1930s and 40s. Descending from the cattle train into the death camp of Auschwitz, the Ovitz family was separated from other Jewish victims on the orders of one Dr Joseph Mengele. Obsessed with eugenics, Dr. Mengele experimented on the family, aiming to discover the biological and pathological causes of the birth of dwarfs. Like a single-minded scientist, he guarded his human lab-rats, and subsequently, when the Russian army liberated Auschwitz, all members of the family – the youngest, a baby boy just 18 months-old, the oldest, a 58 year-old woman – were alive. It was the only family that entered the death camp and lived to tell the tale. The family eventually restructured their lives and became successful performers once again, but the indelible mark of their experiences was carried with them until the end. Giants is based on thorough exhaustive research and interviews with Perla Ovitz, the troupe’s last surviving member, and scores of Auschwitz survivors. The authors tracked down significant medical documentation and unearthed original Nazi records.