My name is Arnav and I’m just an 11 year old kid. I was born with a hand difference, but that has not stopped me from participating and having fun doing activities that other kids my age normally do. I’m going to be honest when I say some things are going to be hard, but I personally have always found a way for me to participate in activities I enjoy. My hand difference has not inhibited me in any way and I adapted to enjoy playing the piano, participating in the performing arts (theater) and playing soccer, baseball, and basketball besides going about doing my daily activities.
How long have you been a Shriners Hospitals for Children – Northern California patient?
I have been a Shriners Hospitals for Children – Northern California patient since I was born.
What is your experience of having a congenital hand difference?
Having a hand difference makes doing some common things harder, like simply opening a bottle cap for instance for me using my left hand. For most people it is just a normal routine task to do, requiring no effort at all, but kids like me with a congenital hand difference might have trouble doing such a simple task. I have adapted as I have taught myself that there are a lot of different ways to do such a task. In life, people may not be so kind when they notice your difference, some may make some rude comments, but one has to go on with one’s life in high spirits showing that nothing is unachievable if you don’t feel like talking about it. If you feel fine sharing ( as I have done ) as to how you were born with it then do so as a lot of people are understanding in nature.
What is something that makes you proud and/or something you like about having a congenital hand difference?
I’m proud to have a hand difference because I feel that I have been given a gift. My difference has made me stronger in life, especially mentally. I believe I can persevere through all hardships life throws at me, especially since I have taught myself to overcome all hardships that I have faced with my congenital hand difference.
How have you adapted to activities?
I play the piano and my left hand sometimes is not able to reach all the notes at once. I have to think beforehand what notes I need to play and where I need to place my left hand before that part of the song comes up. Occasionally, I can figure out how to position my right hand to improvise so I can help play a note with my left hand.
I also play baseball and when fielding I use my left hand as my glove hand because I am dominantly right-handed. My fingers and hand does not fit all the way in, so I have to adapt and position my fingers differently in the glove to make it more comfortable for me and easier for me to catch a ball (though I wish gloves were easier to get customized for children with hand differences ).
What are things you did not expect in having a congenital hand difference?
I didn’t expect to be able to play baseball and play the piano. In baseball in batting, the problem was my left hand wouldn’t fit fully around the bat’s handle in supporting my right hand when gripping the bat and swinging. While fielding it also wouldn’t fit well in my glove. For batting, I had to modify my batting glove to fit my left hand snug to get a better grip on the bat while swinging (we had to cut the batting glove fingers to my finger size and have them re-stitched at the top). And for fielding I had to practice and strengthen my left hand so I could catch a ball with the fielding mitts (since we were unable to get the mitts fitted to size ). Strengthening my left hand also helped me in improving my grip when holding my baseball bat.
For being able to play the piano I had to mentally plan hand placements ahead of time and improvise using my right hand to compensate and play some notes instead.
What would you like new parents of children and other children/ teens/ adults with congenital hand differences to know?
I would like these parents to know that everything is going to be ok. Your mind may be going crazy right now, but calm yourself, I promise it’ll work itself out. Your child may look different on the outside, on the inside they have as pure a heart as anyone.