Little People Big World

I would like to offer a slightly different page on Physical Disabilities.

I was first introduced to condition of Dwarfism in high school biology class, as I assume many of us were. What made it real to me was a documentary (which eventually became a television show) about the Roloff family. Matt and Amy Roloff are both Little People (formerly referred to as Dwarfs). They have four children, twins Zach (a little person) and Jeremy (who is average sized), a daughter Molly (also average sized) and another son Jacob (a little person).

TLC (The Learning Channel) followed the family for six months documenting their lives and turned it into a television show. The sheer number of challenges they face both physically and emotionally on a daily basis is haunting to watch as an average sized person. Pedal extensions to drive a car, remodeling a house so that the counters and cabinets are low enough so ladders aren’t necessary in the kitchen, having every piece of clothing altered and reaching food on grocery shelves are just a few things that all occurred in one day in the life of a Little Person.

From the TLC webpage, here is just a brief list of accomplishments this extraordinary, yet completely ordinary family has accomplished despite their physical disabilities.

"Matt has risen through the ranks of the business world, closing deals with some of Silicon Valley’s most well-known companies. After being laid off, Matt decided to pursue his dream of owning his own business. He is also the former president of Little People of America, an advocacy group for little people and issues affecting their lives.

Originally a stay-at-home mom but now holding down two jobs, Amy has raised four children: 15-year-old twins, Jeremy and Zach, 12-year-old Molly and 8-year-old Jacob.

Together they own and operate Roloff Farms, a sprawling 34-acre farm in Oregon."

Despite their physical disabilities (Matt often uses crutches or a motorized wheelchair) both Amy and Matt are College graduates. In a recent episode, Amy gave a speech at her Alma Matter, Michigan University where she reflected upon being a Little Person in a Big World.

From the TLC biography, "Matt Roloff is a salesman, entrepreneur, advocate for the rights of little people and father of four. A dreamer at heart, Matt is a consummate businessman who thrives on making his next deal. For years, Matt was a huge success in the computer industry, selling systems software to Fortune 500 companies. In 1999, Matt wrote and published Against Tall Odds, which chronicles his business and professional success in the face of enormous medical and social adversity. Matt used the proceeds from his work to create his dream home, a 34-acre farm outside Portland, Ore., called Roloff Farms.

As a child, Matt’s dwarfism often left him in the hospital, recuperating from painful surgeries on his legs. Missing out on the experiences of average children, Matt lay in his hospital bed, daydreaming of cowboys and Tom Sawyer. Now those dreams have become reality on Roloff Farms, which boasts a complete Western town, a pirate ship on a lake, a three-story tree house and a full-size medieval castle, to name a few.

Matt has established his own business, Direct Access Solutions, which focuses on mobility and accessibility products for little people. The key product is the Short Stature Accessibility Kit, a product marketed to hotel chains that provides the tools little people need for a safe hotel room stay. In the last year, Matt also accepted a job within the software sales industry that often has him traveling for business. The majority of his work is in North America.

The former president of Little People of America (LPA) – a social and advocacy group for little people – Matt remains active in the organization and recently attended the annual conference with his whole family in Milwaukee, Wis. Along with Amy, he is working to manage the LPA’s 50th anniversary national conference in 2007, in Seattle, Wash. Matt’s dwarfism is the result of the third most common cause of short stature, diastrophic dysplasia (one per 110,000 births), a condition that negatively affects bone and joint structure and leads to broad, short fingers. He walks with the aid of crutches and often gets around with a motorized scooter." You can read about the other Roloff’s successes at this link.
The following is a discussion board I found to be very interesting that TLC developed for viewers to share their experiences as a Little Person or with Little People.

It is sometimes difficult but important to remember that whatever physical disabilities we may encounter that we are all effective persons in the classroom and in the world where quite literally, there are no limits.

Posted by Liz McOuat