raising a balanced, healthy, resilient child with an upper body limb difference

information for parents, relatives, & therapists to help your child with a hand or arm difference thrive into adulthood

Touching baby's hand
Laura standing under bougainvillea in Kalamata, Greece
photo credit @olgambillia

Hello! My name is Laura Faye Clubok. I have created this website to provide information, suggestions, and support for parents, relatives, and friends of children with hand and arm differences. Born with a thumb and four "nubbins" on my left hand, I earned my undergraduate degree at Harvard University and my master's degree in occupational therapy at the Boston School of Occupational Therapy at Tufts University. My choice of career as an occupational therapist stemmed from my experiences navigating life with my difference, and I am grateful and proud to be a registered and licensed occupational therapist (OTR/L).

In my private practice, On The Other Hand Therapy, I have worked with both children with physical, cognitive, and behavioral challenges and typically-developing children for the past twenty five years.

I hope that you find this site helpful, informative, and inspirational.

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building a physically strong and balanced body

adaptative equipment and technology, avoiding overuse syndrome, encouraging the use of the limb different side, exercise, movement & strengthening, OT/PT services, prosthetics

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fostering healthy social emotional development

advocating for your child at school, encouraging positive social interactions with peers, conversations about being different, promoting a "can do" attitude, talking to friends and relatives about your child's difference, validating feelings, watching out for ableism, working with your child's temperament and personality

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living a full life

pursuing interests (arts, music, sports), participating in social groups/organizations (religious/ethnic, clubs) friendships, driving, travel

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getting connected

people, organizations, books, gadgets, resources

Do you have a unique situation that requires personal guidance? I'm here to help you find practical solutions for the challenges your little one might be facing so that everyone in your family thrives!

Please contact me for consultation, classes, private sessions, and speaking engagements

life stages

Pregnancy and Birth

Please know that you are NOT alone – in fact, you are in great company! You may be feeling a range of emotions, have a ton of questions, and need support. When you are ready, let’s delve into the issues you may be facing and explore next steps.

Early Years

So much happens from birth to thrugh preschool! In this section, we will address your child’s adjustment to having a hand/arm difference, your child’s functional capacities, and some important additional considerations

School Age

Guest Column: From Daycare to Elementary School, by Laura Tofinchio, Shelton, CT

Teenage Years

Guest column: Middle School and High School & Learning Life Skills, by Laura Tofinchio, Shelton, CT

topics

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Exercise

Loads of children with hand/arm differences participate in athletics and sports. Playing a sport can improve self-confidence and self-image, provide a fantastic outlet for energy, strengthen the body, and be a great avenue for meeting peers. Depending on the nature of the hand/arm difference and the kind of sport the child has chosen, they may experience some special challenges when engaging in individual or team sports.

Occupational Therapy

Occupational Therapy (OT) is a fabulous resource that can contribute in many ways to your child’s growth and development. Learn all about OT, what it can offer your child, and how to find a practioner who is knowledgeable about hand/arm/limb differences.

The Overachiever Trap

We delve into messaging that can be detrimental to the development of a child with a hand/arm/limb difference from the child’s perspective. People who did not grow up with a limb difference may not realize how this messaging can affect a child and what the alternatives are.

Typing/Keyboarding for Kids, Teens, and Adults with Hand/Arm Differences

We delve into the factors that affect keyboarding for children with hand/arm differences, including strain to the “dominant” hand as well as incorporating the “affected” hand or arm. While ergonomics is important for everyone who types, it is even more important for children with hand/arm differences

Questions for the Physician/Specialist

Here are some questions that you may want to ask any specialist whom you consult about your child’s hand/arm development

Balanced and Nuanced Medical Advice

Medical providers can offer much more than rosy or doom-and-gloom predictions when they consult with families of babies with congenital hand/arm differences.

Overuse Syndrome

People upper limb differences (ULD) are at heightened risk of developing overuse syndrome over their lifetimes due to strain on the dominant side. Learn how to reduce the effects of overuse syndrome through intentional choices of adaptive equipment, awareness of biomechanics and posture, examination of societal messages, etc.

Moments of Sweetness while raising a child with a limb difference

All parents experience moments of sweetness while raising their children. As a new parent of a child with a limb difference, you may wonder what moments of sweetness you may experience that specifically relate to raising your child. Here are some that parents have shared over the years.

Teaching Children How to Ask About Limb Differences

Children need to be taught how to ask questions & connect with people who have visible differences and disabilities. We explore the two different kinds of questions and statements that people often ask and how they affect the listener.

writings

Stranger

Before there were so many groups for people with limb differences, meeting someone else with a hand difference was a rare experience. This essay contains many of my thoughts and musings on meeting someone with a similar body

Hiding Hand/Arm Differences and Other Issues of Self Acceptance

Reflections on being asked about my difference and suggestions for practicing “scripts” with your child

What Happened to Your Hand?

In this reflection, I explore the question that I feared most in my life and how to ask it of someone else with a limb difference

A Debt Repaid

My childhood experiences receiving occupational therapy instilled a passion for my profession; as an adult, I marveled at the beauty of OT the first time I worked with a child with a similar hand difference.

Graduate School Personal Statement

In my personal statement for my graduate school application, I explained how having OT as a child and later as a teen inspired my desire to pursue becoming an occupational therapist.

Touching The Untouched

I wrote this poem to my (now) husband after we began dating. I dedicate this poem to all of the spouses and loved ones of people with physical differences who saw past the superficial to their partner’s inner being

Quotes

A compendium of quotes found on this site

Letter to my Younger Self

I don’t know why my younger self was born with a little left hand, but I certainly have learned quite a few things about living this life that I wish I could have shared with a younger self

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

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

Lucky Fin Weekend Reflections 2023

This past weekend, I participated in the Lucky Fin Project weekend for people affected by upper limb differences. As a pediatric occupational therapist with a congenital hand difference, I promoted the information and resources on my website and demonstrated the EazyHold adaptive silicone grip assist.

Other Voices: LFP Weekend 2023 Reflections

Many adults who attended LFP 2023 Weekend shared reflections on social media about their experiences. Here are two, one from an occupational therapist and the other from an athete, both of whom have upper limb differences!

Letter from a Parent to their Child with a Limb Difference

Overhearing a parent talking to their child with a limb difference inspired me to think about what I would have liked to have heard as a child. Here it is in letter format.

Highlights on Hands To Love Hand Camp

Highlights of the 2023 Hands To Love Hand Camp weekend in Starke, Florida!

Preparing yourself for when your child feels SAD about their limb difference

On social media, parents often share about the hard moments when their children feel sadness about their limb difference for the first time. Before offering suggestions for supporting children during these difficult moments, I wanted to examine this situation from the parents’ perspective. All children experience sadness about aspects of their life, but this situation is a little different. Let’s explore it!

Mother’s Day Letter to my Mother

I wrote this letter to my mother to share empathy for all that she has experienced raising a child with a hand difference and express my appreciation and gratitude for all that she has contributed to me over my life.

let's connect

We are so thrilled that you found us! Please let us know how we can help you on your journey parenting a child with a hand/arm difference

We will never sell or share your personal information.

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