Archive - March 21, 2017

Disabilities Are Not “Special Needs”

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  Case in point—until recently I didn’t even realize that the label “special needs” was outdated and unacceptable.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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