Jan 02, 2019 / Hand Disorders
Share Your Story: The Natural Athlete
Blog written by Layton's mother, Raina, of The Colony.
In 2010, my husband and I decided to follow a dream we’d had for years - adopt a child from another country. At that time, we already had three young children at home, but we knew other children around the world needed a forever home. Many of these children had special needs that their birth families would never be able to provide care or treatment for. It was not a complete shock when we were referred a little boy who had no hands or forearms. What has been a shock, however, is just how competent—no, amazing— this little boy would be.
When Layton joined our family in August of 2012, he immediately set out to do everything he saw others do. Not only does he keep up, but he does most things far better than other kids his age! He is a natural athlete who can climb anything and a daredevil who will leap from heights that scare his mom. He taught himself to swim and was even doing flips off the diving board at the age of three (I have video to prove it!). He has played soccer for the last four years and he also trains with a coach for the sport of trampoline and tumbling, at which he is quite talented. Layton has a lively and energetic personality that endears himself to almost everyone he meets. I am convinced that one day he will be in the Olympics.
We had thought Layton would be fitted with prosthetics, so shortly after he came home, we were referred by our pediatrician to the hand clinic at Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children. There, we met with Dr. Oishi and he told us that Layton’s official diagnosis is ulnar dysplasia. This is a condition in which the ulnar bones do not develop, and subsequently the rest of the forearm and hand does not normally develop. He explained that while they could build prosthetics and tools for Layton, we would find that for the most part he wouldn’t need or use any assistance and would find his own way to do things instead. For those few activities where he does need assistance, Scottish Rite Hospital has helped us find the right tools.
Layton doesn’t require help with most things.
He dresses himself, writes, opens things and does almost everything else you can think of without assistance. So far, the only daily accommodations he uses are a universal cuff to place a spoon or fork in when eating (he can eat without it, but it’s far easier with the cuff) and no-tie shoelaces.
Recently, we went on a fishing trip to the coast. We thought Layton would have trouble holding a fishing rod and reel, so Dwight from the prosthetics clinic built Layton a special fishing belt to hold the rod.
While the physical help is what we were expecting, the most valuable service the hospital has offered our family has been to build Layton’s confidence and self-esteem.
Like any child with a visible physical difference, Layton does not enjoy being stared at or made to feel different from other kids. Scottish Rite Hospital has provided many activities where he can go and be around other kids who were also made differently, such as Farm Day and Hand Camp.
At Hand Camp, Layton has been able to meet other young adults with limb differences and hear more about their life experiences dealing with their unique challenges. Thanks to Dwight for remembering Layton’s interest in fishing, Layton also got to take a special fishing trip with his brother. And to end 2018 with a bang, Layton was chosen to serve as the honorary captain for the Cotton Bowl, which is probably the highlight of this sport-lovers life at this point.
Layton’s limb difference is a challenge in his life, but as he has shown us, he courageously tackles it head on.