Saturday, June 18, 2011

Brother Of Boy With Dwarfism Bullied

This isn't about the Roloffs -- it's about a show that was on the BBC in the UK called My Life: Big Brother.

We just thought we would pass it on for Roloff followers because it's kind of interesting to compare how the dynamics and experiences of another family may differ from the Roloffs since one of the original elements of LPBW was about one average height brother and one with dwarfism. Although this is a bit different since the brother has more severe medical problems than Zach and has severe mobility issues due to the bone condition.


Teenage carer bullied over having 'small' family

Fourteen-year-old Ethan has a tough time helping care for his younger brother and his mother who have a form of dwarfism called skeletal dysplasia.

"The best thing about being smaller than everyone else is that you can fit down the back of the sofa, and it's handy for when you're playing hide and seek and things, because you can hide where everyone else can't," said 10-year-old Aidan.

Ethan's little brother Aidan has a genetic condition which means his bones did not develop properly, affecting his height and movement. He inherited it from his mother, Michelle, and it means Aidan often has to use a wheelchair.

Michelle said: "It affects all our joints and it's a curvature of the spine, which Aidan has had corrected, and also all the long bones are curved as well."

Aidan and Ethan, who are from Cambridge, have a unique relationship.

While their father Lee, who is a support worker for adults with disabilities, is at work, Ethan helps get Aidan dressed and takes him to school, as well as help his mother cook dinner and with housework.

Ethan said: "Sometimes I get annoyed, but that's life and you just have to get on with it."

But sometimes helping his brother can cause friction between the pair.

Aidan said: "It can be a bit frustrating when I want to do something myself and Ethan comes in and helps.

"(But) Sometimes it can be good because you don't have to do everything when you can't sort of do it yourself."

Ethan has found that the toughest thing to cope with was bullying, which has been so bad he has been forced to move schools.

"People at my old school used to take the Mick - like calling my mum a midget and oompa loompa," he said.

"I've found not to tell anyone at school. Over the years I've had quite a bit of bullying.

"In my old school, how it started was they'd ask why my mum was small and I'd tell them that she was born with a bone condition and they just thought it was funny."

At the height of the bullying, Ethan was walking home from a party with his mother when he was attacked in the street by a stranger.

"A boy just walked up to us and started shouting he then pushed me off my bike, and I hurt my knee and my hand, and he started hitting me and kicking me, asking me who I was.

"I didn't reply and he retaliated more. I managed to get away on my bike and he threw a glass bottle at me and it hit me in the back."

He reported the assault to the police, and his attacker was sentenced to 80 hours of community service.

He said: "The advice I'd give someone who's getting bullied is to tell someone and not suffer in silence."

Living with limited movement also means Aidan has to face daily challenges.

He was desperate to regain his independence and walk up stairs by himself, and after an operation to straighten his legs, he underwent intensive therapy to build up his strength.

The 10-year-old needed hydrotherapy treatment, but feared water, as earlier in life he had had a breathing tube.

But after some initial fears, he embraced the pool.

"When I got in the pool for the first time, I was very wobbly. But then afterwards I didn't want to get out again," Aidan said.

But he already has set himself a new challenge: "I'd like to play football next."

Ethan has also set himself a challenge, to become a DJ. After studying the craft in music lessons with his friends, he played in front of his school friends at a school disco for the first time.

He wanted Aidan to share the experience, and got him on stage with him. And that brotherly support meant he had the confidence to perform.

"It's quite scary but once Aidan came on I really enjoyed it. It really helped when I was helping him."


Thanks to Gary Arnold of the LPA for linking this story on his "Common Ground" blog:


Christine said...

That's sad. Why are kids so mean?

Aidan is so endearing when he talks about Hide and Seek.

Craw said...

I think people overreact to bullying. Look at why they're being bullied. What are they like as a person.

Jeremy didn't get bullied because he's a cool person that other kids liked.

It must not be the same for this Ethan kid. Maybe it's something about him, more than having a bro with dwarfism that makes other kids not like him.

Greg said...

Because of the scams of the Roloffs, I'm skeptical of all shows on tv.

The story of the assault was awful, but it's doesn't sound totally believable to me.

Ethan was walking home with his mom and was attacked because of her dwarfism. And he got away on his bike? But the attackers didn't do anything to the mom? That could have been the case, but I'm skeptical.

Justin said...

Jeremy didn't get bullied because he joined in and was happy on-looker when kids tormented his dwarf brother. Watch Little People Big Dreams and the Birthday party!

Dana said...

Does this family go a Christian school?

One of the elements that can't be ignored with regards to the lack of bullying they faced was that Matt and Amy surrounded their kids with a Christian environment and God loving friends. That makes a difference.

Craw, I do agree that Jeremy has to get some of the credit because of his own personality. Many of those traits he learned from Matt.

Ashley said...

This might sound bad, but I think the kid with dwarfism sounds ungrateful to his brother.

That poor "big brother" needs to be a care giver to both his brother and his mother, and the brother complains that the brother helps him too much?

I feel bad for Ethan.

Ashley said...

Did anyone in the UK actually watch this?

Judy B said...

A story like that can hopefully give some people more of an appreciation for how well Jeremy has handled his situation.

It's not easy to be the "normal heigh", healthy child with parents or siblings with disabilities. A lot more is expected of them than other kids.

Jeremy was able to not only cope, but thrive with other kids unlike the brother in this story.

Anne said...

That is a sad story about bullying.

However the big difference that I see between Ethan and Jeremy is their attitude.

Ethan is quoted as saying he doesn't tell anyone that his family members have dwarfism.

In the Roloffs book, Little People Big Values, Jeremy makes it well known that he always had pride in his family differences and did not feel any shame.

Rap541 said...

Judy B - Yeah, poor Jeremy really faced adversity when he was snickering with buddy Mueller (who he openly prefers to his brother) over Zach looking like a "cross eyed downie".

Praise jesus and praise Jeremy for his LOVE, huh? I mean his every word is a blessing from CHRIST'S LIPS TO OUR EARS!

Judy? Do you pray your kids say things like cross eyed downie? I mean, you want your kids to be like Roloffs and emulate Jeremy *Jesus* in every way? Do you have them toss the cat too?

And hey since Judy B is as usual JUDGING and clearly comparing the boy in this story to Jeremy and making the point that this boy is to be considered LESS as he is NOT emulating Jeremy Jesus...

Judy, are you claiming to BE God now? Weren't you bitching that only *God* should judge? Why are you *judging* when ONLY GOD MAY JUDGE?

Judy? Explain how my judgement is HATING, and your judgement is a blessing of Christian love as you RAG ON SOME KID WHOSE ONLY CRIME IS NOT BEING JEREMY JAMES ROLOFF?

Judy? Explain to thwe class why we should all point fingers at this kid and say "YOU ARE BAD BECAUSE YOU HAVE BEEN JUDGED TO NOT BE AS GOOD AS JEREMY ROLOFF"?

Please explain why we should be hating on a 14 year old kid. As judging is hating, right? And also explain when you became God. Since you have used the "Only God may judge" to defend your precious Jeremy.

Rap541 said...

Dana - the god loving friends spit on Zach and called him a cross eyed downie. Praise Jesus for that?

Lynn C said...

Rap, to Judy's point...who do you think handled having a brother with dwarfism better? Jeremy or Ethan from this show?

Rap541 said...

Lynn - in all honesty, we have neither an accurate picture of Ethan or Jeremy. This article about Ethan is clearly about bullying and is therefore going to emphasize ugly incidents. The Roloffs, with the exception being LPBD and one or two of the first season episodes, carefully portrayed the family as not being targeted by bullies in any way. Ethan in this article certainly seems to face more open hostility - I don't recall anyone ever suggesting that Jeremy was ever beaten up for having dwarf relatives and I imagine his world view might be a bit different if he had. Jeremy's family apparently has had the money to isolate him in a small community where he didn't hear "your mom's a oompa loompa, your brother is a freak" followed by some black eyes in the street. Considering Jeremy's whining how he sure wished Zach had been switched out with Mueller so he could have some fun instead of having to take things at his dwarf brother's pace in Europe... I wonder how well Jer would do with real harassment. Jeremy's actions - the namecalling, the using of terms that are at best impolite and at worst hatefilled bigotry suggests that Jeremy lacks the understanding to see that someone calling him names over his parents disability is the same as his mocking others.

Point - I think if faced with daily harassment and punches to the face, Jeremy would indeed keep his mouth shut about having dwarf parents. That he hasn't (that we know of) faced that kind of harassment is lucky... but comparing "I stand up for my dwarf parents and we have money and position so no one makes fun" to "I get attacked in the street over my mom being a dwarf so I learned not to mention her dwarfism since when I do I get harassed and beaten" is a bit of an apples to oranges comparison don't you think? Do Ethan's parents have the kind of wealth and celebrity that Jeremy's have?

Since I answered yours, how about my point about Judy B? Lynn? If judging is hating, doesn't that make Judy B a hater, for pointing the finger at some bullied kid who's only crime is not being a Roloff?

Lynn C said...

Rap, the point is why didn't Jeremy face that kind of hostility or flat out bullying? I think if the Roloffs faced bullying the show would have been eager to show that.

Jeremy has never said anything about being bullied. He even said the opposite. That kids wouldn't dare harass him over his family.

Do you think it's impossible to believe that the reason why Jeremy wasn't harassed about having a brother with dwarfism was because of his personality and how he dealt with it?

I don't understand the relevance to Jeremy's own name calling. The topic is whether Jeremy was bullied because of his family. Jeremy not having the understand and doing it to others actually shows that he probably was not harassed as Ethan was.

I don't think Judy is judging. She is stating her opinion on the story. Judy said:

"Jeremy was able to not only cope, but thrive with other kids unlike the brother in this story."

I don't see that has Judy leveling harsh judgments at Ethan. It is stating a fact from the story and what all evidence suggests about Jeremy's experience.

Rap541 said...

Lynn - I think a)if you are basing your opinions off the rare parent supervised comments that Jeremy makes - and the only time I recall this subject being raised is in Little People Big Values which we have already established is more fantasy than truth (or do you want to rehash the "jeremy said he doesn't drink per God in LPBV and Jeremy is a Christian who never ever lies" arguement?) then frankly, I will point out that the Roloffs are editing their life and stories to present a positive image. There's at least one example of Jeremy laughing while his friends spit on Zach. I didn't see him proudly defending Zach, did you? B)I'm sure - because Jeremy *isn't* a saint - that he had his moments of regret and dislike and is lucky they weren't on camera, like the spitting incident. But the fact is, we really don't have any examples of Jeremy *needing* to stand up for his family. I mean, he could say he'd beat down anyone who namecalled his daddy but if he's kept in an isolated community where people are afriad to cross his family... we'll never know how he'll really act.

The namecalling becomes relavant, Lynn, because people who have faced bullying and stood strong against generally have *empathy*. That Jeremy sees nothing wrong with snickering about how his dwarf twin brother looks like a "cross eyed downie" pretty strongly suggests he's not going to rise to Zach's defense over "midget" - since you know, both are references to Zach's appearence.

Lynn - I think when Jeremy calls people racist names, he's being a rude nasty bigot. Its stating a fact based on his actions. I trust you'll be chiding Judy B for calling me a hater over it?

And btw - lets not play games, Lynn. I;m calling out Judy B because she tells us all not to judge when *Jeremy* is getting called out for his factual flaws and then she runs to point in judgement when its someone other than Jeremy. You seem to understand the hypocrisy when its not your Jeremy fan buds.

Christine said...

Rap, I don't agree that "Jeremy is a better person than Ethan" logic. I think you touched on the real reason.

The Roloffs grew up in a small sheltered community where most of the kids knew each other since kindergarten.

I wonder what would have happened if they were never on tv and they went to a large public school.

Having said that, I agree with Lynn that I don't think Jeremy ever faced bullying.

LPBW and the Roloffs would have run with that as a good story and for sympathy.

I think it's because of the small circle of friends that they all grew up together and that Jeremy himself along with henchmen Mueller were bullies themselves.

Rap541 said...

why didn't Jeremy face that kind of hostility or flat out bullying?

Just to be clear, because I don't think I was, let me answer.

We have no idea if Jeremy did face that kind of bullying because the story the Roloffs are presenting is "Jeremy is self confident and ignores harrassment".

Ie: The editing arguement. If the Roloffs are to be believed, Jeremy was born with a smile on his face and never ever once has said an angry word or done anything wrong ever ever.

However, the image of jeremy laughing while his friend Dan spits on his brother at his birthday party tells me exactly how often Jeremy looked adversity and his friends in the eye and said "Stop it! Thats my brother and I am proud of him! Don't make fun of him!"

An *extraordinary* kid would have done exactly that. Jeremy, in contrast, laughed, and didn't say one word of protest in defense of his brother.

DegrassiFan said...

Wow Dan spit on Zach? I always thought Dan was nice to Zach. Out of all of the twins friends I always thought Dan was truly Zach's friend. Mueller, Scott, etc always seemed to be Jeremy's friends.

I think going to Faith Bible was good for Zach in a sense that he grew up with his classmates. Everyone knew everyone so I think it made it easier moving onto the next grade. He didn't have to worry about meeting anyone new, he already knew everyone.

It kind of makes me wonder if Zach will ever go to a 4 year school or move away. He still seems really shy around new people unless he is talking about soccer.

Even though they are twins I don't think Zach and Jeremy are close anymore. Maybe they were when they were young but I saw a strong separation as the tv seasons went on. The last few seasons Jeremy was rarely seen and Zach ended up hanging out with Molly and her Freshman friends.

Brandon said...

Degrassi, sad to say, but I think you're wrong about the last part.

For years people said Zach needed to get away from Jeremy to be his own person. It never happened and now we're seeing the effects of what happened by staying in the same situation.

Zach has become just like Jeremy and Mueller. I think he's more wrapped up in their immature stupidity than ever.

The Chosen One said...

"He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,"

Titus 3:5 ESV

Living a privileged & sheltered life does not make one better then others. Humility & grace is what connects us with God.

But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the

James 4:6 ESV

Carol said...

Well said Chosen One.

This is what I think of anytime I hear of the Roloffs say or do anything.

They speak about God often, yet have such a poor understanding.

Grace, humility, humbleness...these things are completely foreign to the Roloffs.

LYNNE NYC said...


Wow, your blame the victim is totally wrong. You think that it's OK for "uncool" kids to be
bullied? Think about that.

All it takes is ONE insensitive kid (like you probably were) and the bullying starts and escalates until it's stopped by someone who realizes that it's wrong for anyone to bully anyone.

I pray to got that you have no children. It would be a bad thing for the world for children to be raised by an intolerant person like you.