Posted by: altmike | July 22, 2014

Advice for Limb Difference Families: Part 2

Can't is not an excuse hand

What is the biggest thing that people in general fear more than anything…failure. What do kids with limb differences fear…failure in front of other people. I can speak from personal experience that one of the hardest things to overcome is judgment from others. Peoples stares, people remarks, the way they can make you feel like you are the size of a pea with one look.  I remember trying to do everything perfect in front of other people so that I would not look weak or inadequate in front of others. I can recall one action that I had to do often in front of others that would send a chill down my back, make my face flush and make my heart beat twice as fast within a matter of seconds…Picking up change off the ground. As miniscule and as mindless as that action may seem to most, to me it was the moment of truth. With only a nail on my thumb and my pinky, trying to perfectly swoop up an object that has less than two millimeters of thickness was a scary thing to me.

It was scary in the fact that I hated being looked at and judged based on my hands, so if by chance I wasn’t able to pick it up on the first try, then I began to feel like all eyes were on me. That a pity party was taking place around me without a single word being uttered. Thus, I would start to panic in my own head and try to pick it up as swiftly and nonchalantly as I could. This was the same when I dropped my driver’s license, business cards, etc. So the question is, how did I overcome this?…By failing.

It required me to fail more times than I could count, to learn the easiest way for me to pick up that damn quarter. It took me fumbling with it and having people stare at me for a good thirty seconds for me to figure out how to make it more seamless the next time.  It took frustration, it took humility and above all it took me not giving up…not letting someone else do it for me, not relying on others to be there to save me every time I fell.  

Now if this happens in my life today (and trust me it happens all the time) I simply bend down and pick it up. I’m not worried about what others think and I’m not trying to figure out if they feel sorry for me because when I do grasp it, it just proved that I could do it.

Here is my advice to limb difference families with this scenario. As a parent, you will see that your child struggles with certain tasks more than others and that is perfectly fine. The key is to not try to do everything for them because you feel sorry for their struggles. The only way they can learn is by doing, is by failing a few times, learning how not to do it and then inevitably successfully doing it. It’s not your job to make life easier for them every time they struggle, it’s your job to support them and help them find easier ways that fit their personal needs and then letting them take it from there. Trust me, they will find a way!

My advice to people in general; failure is ok. We often look at the word failure as this end all be all, it’s not. Failure is just another word for learning. You haven’t failed; you just haven’t done it correctly yet. The key is to not quit. You have only failed if you quit, because once you quit, you no longer have the opportunity to do it right the next time.

Can’t is Not an Excuse



  1. I love it “can’t is not an excuse”
    We had a little boy in December, he has symbrachydactyly (still have to google the spelling) on his left hand. little tiny nubbins but really no hand. You can tell that he has to try harder than most to figure out certain things, it’s frustrating for him, and for me to watch and not intervene.
    Failure is really just a learning experience, you are so very right.
    Thank you for opening up and sharing your story! look forward to reading more!

    • Thank you so much for your comment! I was just reading a little on your blog as well and your little boy sounds exactly like me at that age. Nothing to fear, he will turn out a stud with the right love and support and it sounds like you are doing a fantastic job so far!!!

  2. That second to last paragraph is PERFECT. Amazing job with this, Mike!

    • Thanks Ryan! Means a lot man!

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