It’s an amazing world we live in now. People everywhere are able to connect instantly. I just saw my friend Molly introduce two people to one another on Facebook in a single post. And with online forums, chat groups and communities, someone in North Dakota can simply ask if anybody around them has a limb difference and they’ll get a response. It’s crazy nuts. And pretty awesome.
Growing-up, I never knew anybody “like me.” I can’t remember a single person with an arm like mine. I’ve been told that when I was younger I was taken to support groups, but I don’t remember them at all. My mom says I mostly went to help other parents see that their kid would be ok. Is that ironic considering what I’m doing now? Maybe just foreshadowing. Something like that.
The thing is, I was always treated as if I wasn’t different. I was just a kid. I played and learned and got hurt and got in trouble just like anyone else. So, my missing limb was never a defining characteristic for me. I never had a desire to have friends with one arm or anything. My limb difference was always a part of who I was, but never a big part.
Now it is. And I’m embracing it.
My mother-in-law asked me the other day, “What’s the secret to your success?” I had no idea how to respond. My wife is always talking about how much I overcame, but I didn’t experience it that way. Most people grow-up learning to do things two-handed…because they have two hands. I grew-up learning to do things one-handed, because that’s what I had. I never once thought, “How will I ever do this with only one hand??” I just did it.
This all brings me to the rub, as it were. I love making the videos for LOH and I love that they’re popular and helpful. Especially for parents and grandparents. I totally understand the desire to be able to show our limb-different kids how to do things with one hand. But…they’re going to figure it out. They’ll show you how they do things. And they won’t be thinking about adapting, they just will adapt. It will be second nature because that’s all they know.
So, it’s this weird back-and-forth for me. Part of me wants to say, “Don’t show your kids the videos! Don’t draw attention to their difference! Let them figure out how to do stuff on their own!” And it’s funny because it’s like, “Hey, everybody – my greatest pieces of advice are to treat your kids like they’re not different and not to draw attention to their difference. So, here’s my website that is completely about drawing attention to that difference.” But, I know that’s dumb. I know my insight is valuable and helpful, because you’ve told me so. I know the videos really do give ideas and launching points for your kids to learn how they do it best. And I don’t plan on stopping any time soon. I plan to help and encourage as many people as I possibly can, however I can. And I’m excited about it.
Thank you all for allowing me to grow and learn and explore what it really means to be a limb-different person. Thank you for encouraging me to share my experiences. And thank you for sharing yours! Every email and Facebook post and Tweet I get gives me a jolt of energy. You really are the reason I do this.
Y’all are awesome.
Great post, Ryan! I think your website is more helpful to those of us with two-hands than our kids that have one. You show that despite our belief in our kids that they can do anything, that they can IN FACT do anything. You’re a great role-model as a person… who happens to have one hand. I came here initially to learn how to teach my son to do certain things but I stay because I’m learning way more than that. Thanks!
Thanks so much, Eric. I can’t tell you how much this means to me. 🙂
I agree with Eric, above, that it’s almost more useful for those of us who aren’t “different”, but might also add that sometimes even just knowing there are others who are “the same” can be really helpful.
Keep up the great work!
Thanks so much, JRD!
Continue sharing, Ryan .. you are a GREAT guy doing GREAT job/service .. not just for the disabled and their families ..
God IS sure with you
You are absolutely right and I’ve commented here before. Our daughter, born missing a hand and leg, figures out how to do most things her own way. So yeah, for many things like jumping rope which she’s already figured out and knows how to do your video is a waste of her time to watch. 😉 (but you’re also funny and they enjoy it anyway) BUT, for kids who lost limbs later in life and are having to relearn ‘two handed’ tasks…these videos could be the key to a world they thought they lost. ALSO, the times I really like showing my daughter your videos is for a skill she has not and would not have yet mastered even if two handed, like playing guitar or piano. She’s got to learn that one or two handed, some things just take lots of practice before you’re good at it and ‘missing hand’ is not a valid excuse. So what your videos do for us in this situation is give me some ammo when she gets frustrated and tries to blame lack of success on being one handed. I tell her don’t give up, try again, but it doesn’t mean much sometimes coming from someone who is two handed. So I show her your videos on occasion so if the need arises I can tell her, “DON’T blame lack of success on being one handed. That’s not the problem here because if Ryan can play piano & guitar one handed…so can you if you want it bad enough! If Kyle Maynard can climb a mountain no handed…if Nick Vujicic can sky dive without limbs…if Joni Earekson Tada can paint with her mouth…if you want it bad enough, no excuses!”
Great point! Anytime I try show my son a modified way of doing something it’s stupid b/c he can figure it out better himself. And you know what…NEVER.”, not even once have I heard him complain about anything being difficult. He just amazes me all the time. Which is awesome b/c his little brother is missing his left hand too! They are awesome togheter. Though would love some help for when kids are cruel. Tonight I overhard “You’re disgusting, you’re gross (repeated over and over a fast-food play area). My son said “they said I was gross and I am not.” Getting all indignant would not have helped my son but it was heart-breaking as a mom to hear that. How can I respond in a highly negative situation. We have dealt with curious, and questions and staring…but the malicious comments are horrible and I want to set the tone for how much we even let it affect our day.
One-handed brothers?? That might be the coolest thing I’ve ever heard! 🙂 Glad to hear they’re so determined and positive! Bet I know where they get that.
As far as the malicious comments…that still blows my mind. I’ve never personally experienced that. Ever. It sounds like your son is confident to ignore them, but I think it would be totally appropriate to address the parents of the other kids. Or to even tell the kids that it’s rude and impolite to say those sorts of things. Sorry I can’t be more help there!
Thanks for commenting, Jen! Stay in touch! 🙂 (Have you liked the Facebook page? Lots of fun stuff there, too!)
Hi Ryan, great post!
Internet information isn’t for everyone, but for me I love that I can connect, share and ask questions with people around the world at will! (Raising a child with limb difference, without support, can be very lonely!)
Mostly my son Jack does figure out things his own way, but it’s great to have some ideas about possible solutions and as a parent I hate the idea of reinventing the wheel!
Your ‘how to jump rope’ clip was an ah-ha moment for us… we hadn’t thought to tie the rope around the arm (duh!). So while others may be clever to think these things through, sometimes it’s great for others to have ideas and prompts.
We also recently had a look at your ‘cutting steak’ clip, and it was great as it confirmed Jack’s ideas were on track.
‘Living One Handed’ is a helpful site filled with humour, sharing and positive messages. Please don’t ever doubt for a moment that you are doing what you are meant to be doing – your heart is in the right place! That’s all that counts!
I like popping in and reading your blog now and then…I really like what you have to say…You sound like a great guy …Wishing you all the best
Thank you, Val! Keep popping in. 🙂