One of my daughters wears a leg brace. She's had low muscle tone since birth and hyper-extends one of her legs. The brace stops the hyper-extending and has helped her figure out balance and coordination. We don't treat her any differently than we treat her sisters. She's expected to do the same things they do. Sure, sometimes we have to make modifications, but most of the time I forget she's "different"... mainly because she's not. She's smart as a whip and has an adult-like grasp of humor. The jokes that go over her sisters' heads are things she immediately laughs at. She's friendly and outgoing.
Warmer weather always stresses me out when it comes to her. In the fall and winter her brace is hidden under her pants. But once the warm weather rolls around, people want to know "What's wrong with her?" I never know what to say. Is it polite to say "None of your business"? Just yesterday, while at the park, someone said to her "Oh no, what did you do?" Since we tend to forget she even wears the brace, I thought the concerned party was talking about a scrape on her knee. "Oh, she fell," I said. "Oh my goodness... did she break her leg?" WHAT??? Then I realized she was inquiring about the brace. "No, she's always worn that" I said, and left it at that.
She's getting to an age where she knows people are talking about her. In our house, it has never been a big deal. She wears the brace because it helps her walk better. Her sisters have never questioned it. She has never really questioned it. But these days when others, adults and children, question it, I see something flash in her eyes... yet I can't put my finger on it... shame? disappointment? confusion?
The good news is she may be out of the brace by the end of the summer. She's sooooo close to not needing it. When people question why she wears the brace, I would want to give them a long list of reasons of why she won't be wearing the brace much longer... She has worked hard to get where she is. Some day, when she has a better understanding of life, I want to be able to tell her how proud I am that she never gives up, that she tries things over and over, that she may have to do things in different ways than her sisters, but that she still fights to do things by herself. What's wrong with her? Not a damn thing.
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