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Dwarfism and the Struggles It Causes

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Dwarfism and the Struggles it Causes

Donald A. Norman

Columbia College


This research explains and defines the condition called dwarfism. It looks at some of the causes of dwarfism like genetics and hormonal. This research looks at two categories of dwarfism proportionate and disproportionate. It further will look at the rarest form (Primordial Dwarfism) and the most common (Achondroplasia) and the characteristic of both. The research investigated the struggles that face a person with dwarfism like discrimination and stereotyping and the things they do to overcome them. It also looked at organizations like Little People of America and ADA (American's with Disabilities Act) that aid in the advancement of people with dwarfism.

Dwarfism is a condition that many in this world have. This research will take a look at the medical condition. It will look at the causes of the disorder and other complications that may arise by someone who has the condition. The research will go into detail on the different types of Dwarfisms that exist.It will explore the many challenges that people with Dwarfism face and the steps they take to overcome them. The study will also investigate the discrimination that some may encounter in today's society.

Webster Dictionary defines Dwarfism as, "a condition that causes a person to stop growing before reaching normal adult size". In order to be considered to have the condition one must not be over four feet ten inches tall according to the advocacy group Little People of America (LPAonline.org). Most with the condition though are not over four feet tall. There are as many as 200 causes for the disorder ranging from genetic to hormonal. Dwarfism can come in many forms each with its own distinct attributes. The medical world has split them into two main categories. The first one is disproportionate; WebMD characterizes this as, "an average-size torso and shorter arms and legs or a shortened trunk with longer limbs". The other category is proportionate; that is where the whole body is proportionate in size to one another. So the arms, legs torso and other body parts are all short in size. The condition is not geographically centered, it is found in all regions of the world. It is a condition that does not discriminate and is found in all races, cultures, and societies.

One of the most common forms of Dwarfism is Achondroplasia. In fact seventy percent of people with Dwarfism have this form (kidshealth.org). This form has distinct characteristics that can usually be diagnosed while the child is in utero. The forehead is large in size and the face is sunken in with check bones that are low set and not distinctive. This form falls in the disproportionate category. This is because the individual has an elongated torso with short arms and legs. Medicine.net states, "The average height of an adult with achondroplasia is 131 cm (52 inches, or 4 foot 4 inches) in males and 124 cm (49 inches, or 4 foot 1 inch) in females". Mental wise they function as everyone else. This form of dwarfism is caused by a genetic disorder that affects the brain and spinal cord. Most have back trouble and are in braces as a child to help give the spin support, while others might require surgery. Even into adulthood they might require a wheel chair or walk with a cane. Some though have no problems and walk like everyone else it all depends on the severity of the condition. A person with this condition can be born from parents that are of regular height. In contrast people who have the disorder can also give birth to children of regular height. It also does not affect their lifespan. They tend to have the same lifespan as others without the condition.

The rarest form of Dwarfism is Primordial Dwarfism. This falls into the other category of proportionate dwarfism. The characteristic of this is that the body is small all over. The head, legs, and torso is small and proportionate to one another. This form tends to have more health related issue than other forms of dwarfism. There are several categories that fall in this disorder. Some of them are Meier-Gorlin syndrome, Majewski osteodysplastic, and primordial dwarfism (MOPD) Types I/III and Type II. The rarest of them is called primordial dwarfism (MOPD) type II. This is such a rare form that it is estimated that only a hundred people worldwide has been diagnosed to have this disorder. According to About.com, "Some families have more than one child with MOPD Type II, which suggests that the disorder is inherited in an autosomal recessive pattern". Individuals with this form are really small and grow to be no more than forty inches tall. The disorder has a huge impact on their body and can even affect their speech which tends to be high pitched. In contrast with other forms of dwarfism where the head is larger in size, they have a smaller shaped head. Their life span is short and they are not known to live past thirty years of age. Unlike other forms of dwarfism which can be diagnosed at birth or earlier, this form



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