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Parents Surgically Keep Their Daughter Child-Size

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posted on Jan, 4 2007 @ 03:21 PM
Ashley, a 9 year old American, who suffers from static encephalopathy which leaves her unable to speak, sit up, walk, or feed herself. Her parents have had multiple surgeries performed which have prevented breast growth, and also a hysterectomy. When the doctors published the information in the U.S. medial journal, people began to grow very upset, very quickly.
Parents of a nine-year-old U.S. girl with the mental ability of a three-month-old baby are defending their reasons for using medical treatments to keep their daughter child-sized for the rest of her life.

The severely disabled Seattle girl, named Ashley, suffers from a type of brain damage doctors call static encephalopathy that will not improve.

She cannot walk, talk, keep her head up, and is fed through a tube.

Please visit the link provided for the complete story.

Before anyone begins to offer any opinions, I request you read the article fully. At this point in time, I am uncertain to what I believe. On one hand we have a child who is being picked at from several angles to prevent natural growth. However, these surgeries are being performed to assure the best possible care that her parents can provide.

At this point, Ashley weights approximately 65 pounds. Her parents claim that they will not be able to assist her much longer if she continues to grow. She has shown to sign of mental maturation since she was 3 months old.

So the question becomes, should the parents step aside to assure the optimal life for their daughter? If they allowed someone else to care for her, they could allow their child to grow as anyone else. Or is it their right to make these decisions for their daughter, to assure their relationship and their ability to properly care for their daughter.

I can see this being a very heated topic. The ethical questions are on the forefront and a young girl's life hangs in the balance.

I look forward to hearing the opinions of our member's.

Related News Links:

[edit on 4/1/2007 by Mirthful Me]

posted on Jan, 4 2007 @ 03:51 PM
I believe this has been discussed before, and yes, it is a terrible thing. Even if the parents aren't able to lift her when she's older, there are many charitable agencies out there that will either pay or volunteer people to pay for the child's nursing and care. The parents have not looked at all of their options, and yet they decide to take measures to prevent the worst.

posted on Jan, 4 2007 @ 04:06 PM
DJ, do you have any ATS related links? I have never come across any, but would love to hear what our members have already discussed on the issue.

My initial thoughts are clouded.

Would the young girl be willing to make sacrifices in her own life, to assure her ability to remain with her biological parents? Or do we believe she would rather to mature and grow completely normal, but be forced to live in a group home with specialized care?

It has been said in the article that they are unaware if Ashley actually recognizes her mother and father, which would make a huge difference in the situation. If she is unaware of who her parents are, then would that open the door for an argument for specialized care? The main argument for the parents is that they are her legal guardian and as next of kin, it is their right to make these decisions. But they are obviously in a position of bias and benefit from the decision.

Should the state intervene on behalf of the child? To protect her rights?

This is a sensitive subject that is consumed with grayness.

posted on Jan, 4 2007 @ 04:15 PM
As I understand it, they are also concerned about possible future sexual abuse, and the risk of a resulting pregnancy. Perhaps they fear that if she outlives them, she will be at the mercy of other unknown caretakers. There is very likely other cases where that sort of thing has occurred.

Just the onset of puberty and menstrual flow could be a burden on an ageing caregiver......I imagine they took all sorts of things into account, the idea that she would stay 'child-sized' might have been a bit of a 'euphemism'.

posted on Jan, 4 2007 @ 05:29 PM
Chissler, it was discussed here, and another thread that opened up today too here.

posted on Jan, 4 2007 @ 05:33 PM
I also thought that I had seen this before.

I don't know if this is the same case, but this was the thread I was thinking of.

Should Severely Disabled Children Be Kept Small?

posted on Jan, 4 2007 @ 05:35 PM
I voted yes on this one - even though the title and opener are inaccurate. It was NOT surgery used to stunt her growth, but hormone treatments.

...Using hormone "therapy" to stunt girls' growth - and make them more marriagable - was big in Australia a few years ago.

[We need an icon that shows 'pulling hair out.']

posted on Jan, 4 2007 @ 05:36 PM
She's being stunted via estrogen patches. Her uterus was removed and her breasts as well to help protect her from sexual abuse??? This sort of irked me to be honest. Predators care nothing for anatomy...only power. having no uterus or breasts won;t make her less of a target if a predator has her in mind.

A waste of surgical procedure and is only to make the parents feel better. My stand on this particular case has changed with the additional info.

Understandably the parents want to remain annon. Must protect those selfish interests right?

posted on Jan, 4 2007 @ 05:42 PM

Originally posted by justgeneric
Must protect those selfish interests right?

Many of us may disagree with what her parents have done, but should we consider them selfish?

Let's think about it, they could choose a route where they send their daughter off to a home for specialized care. This would allow them to live a completely normal life, maybe visiting from time to time. Yet they have gone through a very troublesome effort to guarantee their ability to properly care for their child. If Ashley reaches a certain weight, they would no longer beable to move their child around the house. They are only looking to keep her weight down, so they can properly assist her and allow her to grow up in a setting where she can be accompanied by loved ones.

Agree or disagree, selfish is one thing I do not consider these parents to be. They have done a lot to assure their child will grow up at home, with them.

posted on Jan, 4 2007 @ 05:46 PM
I also strongly advise reading the whole article and even visiting their blog before weighing in on this matter.

After doing that, I completely support the parents in their decision.

I think it would be very difficult to know the "right" thing to do unless we were in their position. Since they want to care for her all her life and they have looked and found it "impossible to find qualified, trustworthy, and affordable care providers", I think this is the best thing for the child.

It's their child. Medicine can make her quality of life better. I honestly don't get the problem. If she were going to mature emotionally or mentally, I could understand the disagreement, but she's not. She'll be a 3-month-old baby her entire life.

posted on Jan, 4 2007 @ 05:52 PM
The crux of the issue may be that the parents are making large decisions for their child. But the child is incapable of making these decisions herself, and I believe the parents have her best interest at heart.

Would we, if in Ashley's position, want to make these sacrifices to assure our position at home? Or would we wish to grow and mature in a home, with hired help?

posted on Jan, 4 2007 @ 06:11 PM
The issue I have with this is when do we stop? What is defined as "severly handicapped" and what isn't? Do we take these steps with a severaly autistic or a child with severe Down Syndrome? Do we take these steps with a child that was in a car accident and now is in a wheelchair? I think when you start playing with mother nature she starts to fight back. No one has any idea what that hormone therapy is going to do to her years down the road. I think there are better ways to deal with situation like this other than making it easier for the parents. No one knows the hand they are dealt when it comes to their children, and no one has the right to determine the natural progression of those offspring. We certainly wouldn't do this type of thing to a child who has cystic fibrosis or some other horrific disease, why is it ok to do it to a child who doesn't have the mental capacity to speak for herself? If she were severely retarted and could speak, walk and roll over but was never going to progress past the age of 6 mentally would it be ok then?

posted on Jan, 4 2007 @ 06:22 PM

Originally posted by cw034
I think when you start playing with mother nature she starts to fight back.

Perhaps we should just let cancer grow, then? Because we're playing Mother Nature when we try to kill it with the means available...

No one has any idea what that hormone therapy is going to do to her years down the road.

If the rest of the world has access to hormone therapy (which we have for many many years -- that's what birth control pills are) why shouldn't this family?

I think there are better ways to deal with situation like this other than making it easier for the parents.

Did you read the article? It's for the child. Not the parents.

If she were severely retarted and could speak, walk and roll over but was never going to progress past the age of 6 mentally would it be ok then?

If she could speak, she could give input. And I think it would be up to the parents.

posted on Jan, 4 2007 @ 06:34 PM
As a parent, I don't know how I feel about this..I don't think I would go through or rather put my child all that..
The issue I just can't grab, is the one re: sexual abuse. I know it happens but in her own home..This was a major problem for the parents..Do they fear/know someone we don't know about.
If she was going to daycare or long term institutional care--we know it happens there but at home.!
I can't get my head around the reasons but I am a firm believer of walking a mile in another persons shoes before making judgements.

posted on Jan, 4 2007 @ 06:59 PM
Umm WOW! this is crazy ..Never heard of this disorder. Anyway I find the whole growth stunting thing kinda sketchy it just seems so unatural! but I would like to know what other families with a child like this have done? did they do the surgeries too? or what.

posted on Jan, 4 2007 @ 07:09 PM
There will be a point where the daughter outlives her parents, and then what happens? Do the parents honestly think that by making their daughter look like a child, she will have someone else to protect and care for her as an adult? If anything, this is going to make her future even worse. How hard would it be for two full grown adults to carry a 110 lb woman, in the future? I've read the article left and right, but I still stand on my point. I think what the parents are doing is very damaging. They've ruined any chances for for any self-sufficiency in the girl's future.

posted on Jan, 4 2007 @ 07:19 PM

Originally posted by Murphs
The issue I just can't grab, is the one re: sexual abuse. I know it happens but in her own home..

She attends school. And she has a caregiver. I'm sure she'll have several throughout her life.

"Ashley has no need for her uterus since she will not be bearing children," they say, adding that the decision means she will not experience menstrual cramps.

The decision to remove her breast buds was partly to avoid sexualizing Ashley in the eyes of her caregiver, but mainly so that she would not experience discomfort when lying down.

Breasts would also just add extra weight that she doesn't need and breasts mean the possibility of breast cancer and fibrosystic growths, both of which which run in her family.

THis is all detailed in the blog.

posted on Jan, 4 2007 @ 07:21 PM

Originally posted by DJMessiah
They've ruined any chances for for any self-sufficiency in the girl's future.

She's mentally 3 months old and her condition will never improve. She's never going to be anything CLOSE to self sufficient! She's fed through a tube. She's TOTALLY dependent.

posted on Jan, 4 2007 @ 07:24 PM
well i am a bit biased as i work with autistic teens, but i feel maybe this is the best thing for her. her mental state is only 3 months...the sickest kid i work with seems to have the mental state of a 5 or 6 year old, and it would have definitely helped if he didn't have to go through puberty.

posted on Jan, 4 2007 @ 08:41 PM
There are a lot of concepts at work here which are very foreign to most people. The big one is futility. This is not someone who is ever going to be functional enough to care about breasts. This is someone who 100% needs to be managed by others.

It seems to me that her parents are giving her every advantage they can- making it possible for her to be readily moved, both for her own care and comfort and also to get her out of harms way in the event of an emergency.

If you were 100% responsible for someone, for their entire life, would you have a plan to get them out of the house if there was a fire? I would.
Now in this girl's case, that either means having a 200 pound man around 24/7/365 just in case this girl needs to be lifted and carried very quickly, or giving her some shots.

The sexual abuse angle is compelling too. This person will be a 3 year old orphan for DECADES of her life in all probabliity. I can't imagine any parent being willing to take a gamble on that. A measure that solves other problems of caretaking while at the same time reducing any temptation that may arise for caregivers when they are gone is a good thing.

I know, it's odd, it raises questions we don't normally ask ourselves, and we just have a hard time getting our heads around it, but these people aren't hurting their daughter, they are trying to protect her from a great many complications of her condition, both small and large. I applaud their courage in trying to love and care for their daughter against so much pressure.

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