Hear From Experts
Before telling family and friends about your child’s hand difference, medical experts suggest working through your emotions and do as much research as possible. Feelings of anxiety, fear, embarrassment, guilt, anger, disappointment and confusion are common.
Dr Katherine Olsson, Clinical Psychologist and Clinical Neuropsychologist from the Queensland Paediatric Rehabilitation Service says:
‘You might feel worried or anxious about what questions others ask, particularly around the question of “why did this happen?” This can be anxiety provoking.’
Social Worker from the Queensland Paediatric Rehabilitation Service David Weatherburn recommends sharing just what you feel comfortable with.
‘How much to disclose is completely up to you. People will ask questions so it’s good to be prepared for that and being prepared can help you gain a sense of control over those situations.’
Psychologist Di Rachinger provides some helpful suggestions:
‘People will take their cues from you, so how you talk about your child’s hand difference will guide them. Try to avoid negative talk. Instead of saying: “Unfortunately he doesn’t have all his fingers.”
Say: “You’ll notice he has a hand difference – 3 fingers on this left hand. We don’t know why but hand differences are quite common in Australia.
It was quite a shock for us at first but we’re ok with it now. We have done some research and met other parents of kids with a hand difference and know that he will be OK.”
Di says it can be helpful to encourage people to ask questions, but some people are not good with difficult issues or emotions. So, if you do get a response that is hurtful or dismissive, try to stay calm and keep in mind that you have had time to absorb the news whereas the information is still new to them.
Forgive clumsiness and bear in mind that children can often speak very directly but often this is just natural curiosity. Hopefully, friends and family will be supportive and the more you can involve them, the more comfortable they will be.
Hear From Aussie Hands Parents
Aussie Hands parents share how they went about telling others, normalising the situation and dealing with questions and stares about their baby’s hand difference.
Private vs social media announcement
While you may choose to announce your baby’s hand difference privately over video or phone calls or group email messages, some Aussie Hands families have shared the news of their baby’s hand difference with the world in an up-beat and positive way on social media. Here are some examples:
Mawter family announcing the arrival of Amelia
‘Welcome earth side little Amelia. Born 29/12/20 at 06.59hrs weighing in at a healthy 3.26kg.
Our little warrior child is happy and beautiful. She has surprised us by being born with only one hand (which was quite a shock for us both as you could imagine) but nothing her two mums can’t handle, especially with one being a physio!
I have a sneaky feeling that she will be just as strong and determined as her mummies are and she will smash down barriers with both bravery and grace. We are absolutely smitten and so blessed she chose us as her parents.
We are the Mawter Mob and we got this.’
Tegan introducing Louis to the Aussie Hands community
‘Our beautiful 2-week-old little man – Louis Remy Orion.
At our 12 week scan we were told our boy’s left hand was absent because of an amniotic band.
We’ve had much time to process it and to find available supports, for both him and us, at each stage of his development.
Now we are at peace and are so in love with every part of our boy. I told my husband I secretly love him more because his hand is the way it is. Thanks to this Aussie Hands group and the Lucky Fin Project for helping us normalise things and showing us just how full of a life our boy can and will be.’
Sharing our stories
Claire’s mum Danielle recalls their first Aussie Hands event
‘I remember a very emotional but happy moment at our first Aussie Hands picnic when Claire was about 3 years old. This was the first time Claire had met someone else with a hand difference and the memory of her face lighting up when she realised there were other people like her, still brings tears to my eyes.’
Danielle encourages parents to meet other families in a similar situation: ‘Connecting with other people who understand the emotions you go through, particularly in the first few years, is such a great support.’