Archive - March 2017

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Disabilities Are Not “Special Needs”
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Are You Happy? If Not, Why?

Disabilities Are Not “Special Needs”

It’s taken a decade of research into genetics and specific diseases and disabilities for me to gain even a fraction of understanding of my daughter’s syndrome. I still have no idea what I’m doing half the time. And I make plenty of mistakes.  Case in point—until recently I didn’t even realize that the label “special needs” was outdated and unacceptable. I’m immersed in this community, yet I was unaware. And if missed this, maybe you did too? I’m not easily offended. I curse, I make gross jokes. I try not to take what people say too seriously and I try to cut people some slack when they say the wrong thing. We all slip up. Words don’t tell the whole story. Our actions and intentions define who we are.  But, when we are told point-blank that something is offensive, we should pay attention. Isn’t it our responsibility as compassionate citizens to do no harm whenever possible? And seriously, updating our vocabulary costs us nothing. Let’s take the r-word for example. I’ve written about it quite a bit over the years. The word itself is harmless. It means late or delayed. When used appropriately, it should cause no harm. But it does.[…]

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Are You Happy? If Not, Why?

If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands. What, no clapping? Aren’t you happy?!  Well, don’t let that make you sad because not many of us are consistently happy. According to the studies anyway. Science has us pegged as a sad sack of SOBs just trying to make it until cocktail hour.  My daughter however, she’s perpetually happy. She gleefully claps her hands all the time for no apparent reason. It’s like a happiness explosion where her joy just can’t be contained and the sudden burst of happy claps is a way to let it out.  I consider myself a very happy person, but I can’t say I feel “happiness explosion happiness” in adulthood very often. But alas, nobody is as happy as Avery. She doesn’t fit the typical mould. She doesn’t worry. She doesn’t know fear. And there’s zero hate in this kid’s world. It just doesn’t exist for her. I’d say she’s 90 per cent happy—9 per cent ‘meh’, when she’s tired or told, “No, you can’t host a play date right now.” And 1 per cent legitimate sorrow, usually when she’s missing a loved one. The rest of the time, bliss.  I get the sense[…]

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