How many first-grade students do you know who have already published their first book? Chances are, the answer is zero!
In fact, the odds are good that you’ve never met anyone quite like Wyatt Shield of Wichita, Kansas. For starters, the 6-year-old has polydactyly, a birth difference that resulted in him being born with six fingers forming on each hand.
Prior to his birth in February 2016, his mom Amanda Shield had no idea her son had this rare condition. She recalls asking her husband the question every mom asks after delivering Wyatt via emergency C-section.
“I asked my husband ’10 fingers and 10 toes?’ and without missing a beat, he said ‘Yup,’ Amanda recalled. “It wasn’t until we got back to recovery, he said ‘So, he has extra fingers.”
Amanda immediately accepted her son’s differences. She was just glad Wyatt was healthy.
“We just say God made him special,” she added.
Each of Wyatt’s hands had an extra thumb. Doctors were confused about the cause, but they all agreed that his hands might not be fully usable without surgery. One doctor even told them he’d never be able to write his name by kindergarten. Concerned that he wouldn’t be able to hold a pencil or get himself dressed, the family decided surgery to remove the extra digits was their best option.
When Wyatt was 4 years old, he went to Shriners Children’s St. Louis in Missouri to meet with pediatric orthopedics specialists. It took three surgeries in all, but Wyatt’s hands are now fully functional and look just like everyone else’s. But the experience of being different stuck with the child, and by the time he was in first grade, a book idea burned inside him.
It was August 2021 when Wyatt first told his mom about the book he wanted to write “to prove that little kids can do big things and tell other kids it’s okay to be different.”
She didn’t think he was serious at first, but one night he began to dictate it out loud while he was in the bathtub. Amanda grabbed a pen and wrote it down, and “Wyatt’s Big Adventures with Shriners” was born!
The book is about being born with 12 fingers, which he calls “tough,” and what it was like to have his surgeries. The main theme of the book is about including others in spite of, and perhaps because of, our differences. A portion of the proceeds will go to Shriners Children’s St. Louis and other children’s medical charities.
Amanda says her biggest takeaway from watching Wyatt go for his dream is not to stand in her son’s way!
“Do what you can to support them,” she said. “Let them run with it.”
And for other parents whose kids were born different, she had this advice:
“They can do everything that they put their mind to,” she said. “Their abilities may just be different, so love them for who they are, and they will shine and surprise you every single day.”
Congratulations on your first book, Wyatt! What a beautiful way to show other kids that our differences are what make us special and unique.
Share this story to tell others about “Wyatt’s Big Adventures with Shriners.”
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