Letter to my Parents, Teachers, and Coaches from my Younger Self

Little Laura with an expression of joy and wonder

Had I been able to articulate what support I needed as a child, here is what I would have requested of the adults in my life

I have some requests. Please:

Don’t make me prove to you that I’m okay. I need you to trust that I will be okay and will have a great life.

See me as whole and remind me often that I am.

Get whatever help/support you need so you are able to be present when I need you to listen & validate my experiences. When you take care of your own emotions around my limb difference, I get to be a kid rather than a care taker.

Understand that grieving is a process. Grieve the child you didn’t have as often as you need so that you can truly love the one you do.

Realize that you may always question and worry about whether you are doing/have done enough for me. But the most important thing you can do is to love me exactly as I am.

Reaching out to others who have this special situation helps all of us to be able to anticipate what unusual circumstances I may deal with in my life.

Don’t allow anyone decide for me what I can and can’t do.

Support me in the things I want to pursue. But also remind me that I don’t have to do everything everyone else does. Help me to learn the concept of choice.

I am really proud of myself for figuring out how to do so many things for myself. Don’t assume that I will figure out everything independently – please be available when I need you to be there for me.

Appreciate that even though being different can be amazing, it also can be hard and challenging. When I go out into the world, not everyone sees how wonderful my difference is.

Understand that accepting my body is ever changing: one moment I might love my different hand and the next I might think it is ugly. Support me and be patient as I navigate this very confusing process.

Understand that sometimes people may focus on my differences too much. At other times, they may not focus on it enough. Help me to learn how to recognize and advocate for what I need.

Be aware as I grow that asymmetries in the body are cumulative. Things that are easy for me to do with my different or dominant side when I am young may be harder as I get older. If I ever tell you that my body hurts, listen and consult with someone with expertise.

Model asking and accepting help from others. Seeing you do this will make it easier for me to ask and accept help from others. After all, everyone needs help sometimes.

When I’m old enough to do more for myself, be with me rather than do for me. Work with me to problem solve. Even when I no longer ask you for help, continue to let me know you’re here for me. If I refuse your offer, don’t be offended – one day I may accept others’ help.

Recognize that as I get older, you may be tricked by my super creative adaptations into thinking that I have figured it all out. I need you to know that it sometimes it’s not easy but actually really hard. Please remind me how strong and resilient I am – it helps when you remind me how hard I’ve worked and how far I’ve come.

Above all, know that I love you ❤️ even if I don’t always remember to thank you for everything you do for me!

©2024. Laura Faye Clubok, MS, OTR/L, On The Other Hand Therapy

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