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Children And Teens

Advice for Parents

If you have given birth to a child with a limb deficiency, you know the shock you have experienced. You have had to deal with some very painful feelings – depression, anxiety, loneliness and, perhaps, feelings of guilt and anger as well. You may have blamed yourself, wondering if something you did could have created your child’s problem. The truth is, however, that neither medicine nor science yet understands how or why a limb stops developing normally. So, if you blame yourself, you must try to see that there was actually nothing you could have done to control the growth of your child’s limbs. Neither should you feel guilty if you felt angry when your child was born with a limb-deficiency. You were gravely disappointed, or you may have felt some ‘drawing away’ or had difficulty looking at the limb. These, too, are normal human reactions. Try to accept your feelings, whatever they are, and to not blame yourself. If you continue to blame yourself, or cannot accept your mixed feelings, consider seeking professional help. You deserve, and you need, your peace of mind for your own happiness as well as for your child’s.

The loss of limb through accident is a tremendous shock. Unless your child is very young, they will feel the same emotions as adult amputees – grief, depression and anger. In addition, children often feel guilt for bringing pain and problems to their parents. Your child will need lots of reassurance, love and help. You, also, will be dealing with your own feelings of guilt, anger and depression. Try to accept your feelings. You may also wish to seek counselling from a trained person.

Whether your child was born with a congenital deficiency or has had an amputation, they need your love and acceptance. You must also accept the artificial limb. If parents do not like their child’s prosthesis, they will sense this and may refuse to wear it.

Early Referral to Limb Centre

It is important to have your child’s artificial limb fitted early. This way, your child will be much more likely to accept and use the limb. Artificial legs are fitted when the child shows signs of wanting to stand. Making and fitting a limb for your child will require at least three visits to the limb Centre – one for the cast to be taken, one for a fitting and one or more to finish the limb. As he/she grows, a new limb will be required every 6 to 12 months. As well, other visits will be needed for minor alterations and adjustments.

When your child’s artificial limb is finished, it is important that you both have training sessions in its use with the occupational therapist. Because the attention span of a young child may be less than 10 minutes, regular but short visits are necessary. The aims of these early training sessions are:

  • Getting you both to accept the artificial limb.
  • Getting your child used to wearing the limb continuously.
  • Familiarizing you and your child with the artificial limb and all its parts, and also with how it functions both on and off.
  • Teaching your child activities which need to be done at home and school.
 

For the child with an artificial arm:

  • Encouraging them to use the hook (or CAPP terminal device).
 

For the child with an artificial leg:

  • Letting them gain confidence with balance while standing.
Answering your Child's Questions

Most parents of limb-deficient children worry about their child’s first question about their disability and often find the question, when it comes, isn’t as bad as they expected. Try not to read your own feelings and doubts into your child’s questions.

If your young child asks why they don’t have a hand, they want an answer and a simple one. The simple truth is that they were born without a hand. Do not assume that they are worried, as you might be, about the reason. Don’t worry if your child doesn’t ask questions – they may not feel the need to. By being open about the whole issue, you will show that you are ready for questions.

On the other hand, brothers or sisters may be full of questions and need extra attention. By encouraging your child to express feelings and by accepting them, you can help the child to handle them. For example, if your child says “Wish my leg wasn’t like this!”, let them know that you understand this wish. Avoid, at all costs, saying something like “You shouldn’t feel that way” or “You’re lucky it’s not worse”. It does not help to say how they should feel. Feelings are our own, and the child should not have to feel guilty for being human.

Going to School

Naturally, your son or daughter will attend the school of your choice. It is a good idea to talk to your child’s teacher before they start school, so that the teacher will know what to expect and can help as your child moves into the new group. You should maintain regular contact with the teachers as your child goes through school.

Childish teasing about one thing or another is common. While you may worry about this, do not assume that it will have a harmful effect upon your child. Most children get teased at some time during their early school years and are able to handle it.

What should you do, though, if your child comes home from school upset because someone made a hurtful remark? Talk together and with their teacher about the incident and show that you understand their hurt and anger. You may also be able to help get things into proportion, by explaining that immature people who feel that they are not good enough, like to tease others. When they put someone else down, it makes them feel bigger.

Adolescence

What about adolescence? If parents worry about their limb-deficient or amputee child starting school, they are likely to worry even more about the approaching teenage years. Again, the best thing to do is not to worry pointlessly in advance, nor to pre-judge the situation. Your child’s disability does not mean that they will be less capable of handling teenage uncertainties than their peers.

As your child becomes interested in the opposite sex, you may like to point out that few, if any, of us are instant social successes. If they are not attractive to someone they fancy, the limb may not necessarily be the reason. Attractiveness and social acceptance do not depend on limbs but on the person as a whole.

Many children at this age, particularly girls, do not wear their artificial arms because they feel they are not attractive. If this happens, neither you nor your child should feel guilty because you have not done ‘what the doctor said’. The earlier training your child had in wearing an artificial arm will have been all to the good. Often these children, realising the advantages of wearing a prosthesis, start to wear one again in later life.

Our main goals

Fostering resilience, independence, and confidence in young amputees through family support, early intervention, and community inclusion.
Amputee Guide
Artificial Limbs

Exploring artificial limbs: enhancing lives, overcoming challenges, and fostering independence.

Phantom Limb

Understanding and adapting to phantom limb sensations for amputees.

Amputee Mobility

Promoting independence and mobility for amputees through advanced prosthetic solutions.

Benefits & Assistance

Navigating financial aid and support services for amputees, focusing on benefits and assistance programs.

Sport & Recreation

Promoting active lifestyles for amputees through sports, physical activities, and recreational opportunities.

Caring For Yourself

Guidance on self-care for amputees, covering limb hygiene, prosthesis care, and joint health.

Children & Teens

Supporting children and teens with limb differences: emotional, educational, and social guidance for growth and inclusion.

Employment

Enhancing employment prospects for amputees through support, rights protection, and tailored services.

Amputee Support
Coping with Loss

Addressing emotional healing and adaptation for amputees coping with limb loss.

Support Networks

Building community and offering peer support for amputees through regional societies and social networks.

Societies

Connecting amputees across New Zealand through supportive regional societies and resources.

Artificial Limbs

Enhancing amputee lives through artificial limbs: adaptation, comfort, and mobility.

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