October is Achondroplasia (Dwarfism) Awareness Month!
Achondroplasia is a bone growth disorder that causes dwarfism. Dwarfism is defined as a condition of short stature as an adult. People with achondroplasia are short in stature with a normal sized torso and short limbs. It’s the most common type of disproportionate dwarfism.
In achondroplasia, individuals have a problem with how cartilage converts to bone (ossification), particularly in the extremities. The average height of an adult male with achondroplasia is 4 feet, 4 inches while the average height for adult females is 4 feet, 1 inch.
DECONSTRUCTING COMMON MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT DWARFISM
This year, we wanted to destigmatize some topics and clarify some common misconceptions about dwarfism – with the help from Little People of America (LPA) – a national nonprofit organization that provides support and information to people of short stature and their families.
So here are some common questions to clarify!
What is the appropriate terminology when talking about someone with dwarfism?
In general, preferred terms are short stature, little person, LP, dwarfism and for some people, dwarf.
However – the most preferred terminology is always simply the person’s name.
And for people without dwarfism, the correct terminology is average-height rather than ‘normal.’
What exactly causes people with dwarfism to have small stature?
As we’ve pointed out, the most common reason is achondroplasia. However, sometimes the small stature is due to other factors like enzyme processing functions or kidney disease.
Do people with dwarfism automatically have parents or children with dwarfism too?
This is one of the most commonly misunderstood topics. 80% of people with dwarfism have average-height parents and siblings.
And people with dwarfism can have average-height children.
Does dwarfism look the same for everyone?
Like all things, it’s different for everyone. There are over 200 distinct types of dwarfism.
Are there mental health issues associated with dwarfism?
It is rare to have any mental cognition issues in conjunction with dwarfism.
It’s so helpful to know – and spread! – the facts, so people can have an open mind and heart when are talking not just about dwarfism, but about any medical condition, rare or otherwise.
So during October and all year long, take care to lead conversations with facts and empathy!