If 1 in 68 children were born without legs...

Imagine that 1 in 68 children was born today without legs. Maybe they were only missing a few toes. Maybe the loss was up to the knee on one side. Perhaps they had no legs at all, only tiny thigh stumps.

People gasped in the street when they saw the 1 in 68 children with no legs. There were so many of them! They blamed the parents. "You must have done something wrong. This must be your fault." Then they blamed the children. "If you tried harder, you'd be able to walk, you know."

The parents of the 1 in 68 children affected did the best they could. They carried their children around until they were too heavy. They bought wheelchairs, trolleys, even prosthetic limbs for them. They taught them to walk the best they could, all the while worrying about their future at school, where children could be cruel, and out in the big grownup world, where getting up stairs and onto work sites would always be a challenge. 

A select few children of the 1 in 68 thrived. They learned to run. Found their niche. They didn't see having no legs as a problem. And for them, it wasn't.

For the other 1 in 68 children, crying at home when the prosthetics hurt, wondering why no-one ever invited them to go jogging with them and wanting so desperately to be able to feel the sand in their toes like other, legged, people described, life without legs was full of struggle and pain.

In schools, teachers coped as best they could. They built ramps, put in new infrastructure, went on training courses to learn how to best deal with the 1 in 68 children with no legs in their classroom. Because there was one in every second class. Funding had to be found. And helpers. And the other children had to be guided in not teasing or making hurtful comments.

The government was shocked. So many children without legs! What was the cause? Was there a solution? It was the scandal of the day! Thankfully, however, politicians on all sides came together and united, not only to find a cure, but also to support the families whose children were affected by losing their legs.

Within two years the numbers of children being born without legs was virtually nil. The epidemic was over.



1 in 68 children has Autism Spectrum Disorder. Numbers have risen in the last decades. People call it an epidemic. Unfortunately, though, a cure isn't on the way. Imagine if it was treated in the same way as the thalidomide disaster of the 1950s. Within 8 months of finding the culprit, no more babies were born missing limbs because of thalidomide poisoning. Could it be that because ASD is not as obvious as a disability such as having no legs, it has reduced urgency?


photo credit: Eduardo Deboni via photopin cc