Mom Makes Elf On The Shelf Handicapped So Daughter Who Suffers From Genetic Disease Feels Recognized

Children up and down the nation are celebrating the run-up to Christmas with a particular toy that often gets up to a lot of mischief while they’re asleep.

Elf on the Shelf has been a staple in most homes since it was introduced to the world in 2005, ensuring that every child is reminded of the importance of being good as the big day approaches.

The elf has also reached the home of 2-year-old Stella Lackey, in Phoenix, Arizona, but her elf is serving an even greater purpose.

Stella has spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), a genetic disease that affects her motor function and requires her to use a wheelchair. Her elf Bean also uses a purple wheelchair and uses pink ankle-foot orthoses, just like Stella.
Bean the Elf gets up to all kinds of fun activities, just like Stella does, such as rock climbing at occupational therapy and using a nasogastric tube, which carries food and medicine to the stomach through the nose. However, Bean the Elf’s tube is filled with hot chocolate, as per Good Morning America.

Stella’s mom said she wanted to make sure that her daughter could relate to Bean.

“I don’t think she even second guesses that the elf is in a wheelchair because that’s just what she’s so used to,” mom Samantha Lackey told Good Morning America. “For me to be able to mirror this little elf with her personality, I think she truly appreciates it.”

Stella, who was diagnosed with SMA as a 1-month-old and received her first wheelchair at 9 months old, has many toys that represent what she sees in herself. She said when she and her husband gave Stella her first Barbie doll, who also uses a wheelchair, they saw her confidence grow.
“As a mom, I was worried about how am I going to relate to my child. I don’t have a disability, I unfortunately never had relationships with disabled people growing up,” Samantha said.

The creative mom shares Bean the Elf’s adventures on Instagram and hopes it encourages other families to have conversations about people with disabilities.

“Having a conversation about seeing someone in a wheelchair or seeing someone use a mobility device, it’s hard for us as parents when we’ve never had to have these conversations before, so if you can start it with Elf on the Shelf, why not?

“I think bringing inclusion and normalizing disability is going to only make our kids a little kinder when they see someone with a disability.”

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