Restricted growth, previously known as Dwarfism, is a medical condition which is characterised by unusually short height. There are different types and hence different causes of restricted growth. People with restricted growth can live long and fulfilled lives, with minimal effects on their overall health, the same as those who don’t have restricted growth.
There are two types of restricted growth:
- Proportionate Short Stature (PSS) is a general lack of growth in body arms and legs. The causes are PSS tend to be having short parents or having a specific genetic condition such as Turner syndrome, Noonan syndrome and Prader-Willi syndrome.
- Disproportionate Short Stature (DSS) is where the arms and legs are particularly short in relation to the rest of the body. A rare genetic disease called achondroplasia is usually the cause of DSS, which is produced by a gene mutation. The condition affects between 1 in 15,000 and 1 in 40,000 people globally. There has also been research connecting achondroplasia with particular parts of the world; for example, the above statistic is lowered to 1 in 6,400 in Denmark.
Restricted growth can sometimes cause no significant health implications other than height. However, at other times it can have a greater impact. Some common symptoms include:
- Bowed legs
- Curved spine (or Scoliosis)
- Repeated ear infections causing hearing impediments
- Abnormally shaped and sized head
- Upturned nasal tip
- Short fingers or toes
Managing restricted growth and employment
For lots of people with restricted growth, there are very few careers shut off because of their disability. If you are not already employed and are looking for work as an individual with restricted growth, you should first think about in what area or job you would like to work. Chances are some reasonable adjustments can be made by the employer to make this possible for you. As restricted growth has no impact on learning or intellectual abilities, it is often merely a case of adapting the physical environment.
Just because we live in a world built for those without restricted growth, it doesn’t mean there should be barriers to careers for those people who do have restricted growth. Visible disabilities, such as restricted growth, do not have to be actively disclosed it to an employer, meaning a conversation about physical support in the workplace can happen in the hiring process.
Suppose you are looking for work as a person with restricted growth, and are struggling to find appropriate roles. In that case, there are several avenues for support. You can access help via The Employment Service, now in the form of Job Centres. At the jobcentre, you will be paired with a Disability Employment Adviser (DEA) who can connect you with jobs or offer guidance on adjustments in the workplace.
To find out where your local jobcentre is, visit the government advice page here.
There is also a government scheme called the Work and Health Programme, which aims to help get people into work and keep a job. It covers assistance for lots of different people, including disabled people.
Advice for Employers
As mentioned above, some small physical changes to the workplace can be all that is necessary to make your business accessible to people with restricted growth. Talk to your employers about what other emotional and physical support you could offer. Some physical adjustments might include:
- A bespoke chair and desk
- Lifts or smaller steps
- Disabled bathrooms with lower sinks and toilet
- Lower cabinets and drawers
- Stools to reach higher places in the kitchen and office
These things can be funded via the Access to Work scheme, which covers the cost of adjustment to a workplace for a disabled employee. For more information on financial support, visit our page about accessing funding.