I don’t know when it happened, but somewhere along my journey with my boys, I got so tired of hearing “Special Needs”. It just didn’t fit for me. Or for them. It seemed to have lost whatever intention it had started out with…to help our children. Now it was setting my kids apart and almost giving people permission to judge them. I wasn’t too keen on it. Like, at all.
I mean really, what is a special need? It’s something that is different than everybody’s else’s, right? So by defining and describing our children as special needs, we are setting them apart from their peers, from humanity. Isn’t that the exact OPPOSITE of what we want to do?
I don’t have the same needs as my kiddos and my kiddos don’t have the same needs as each other. Because we are human! Because we are unique. Because each of us expresses ourselves differently. We are differently-abled too. Like, my boys are complete badasses when it comes to electronics. I am not. Nope. Not even a little.
So what happens when we label kids “special needs”? They are set apart. They are judged. They get a free pass sometimes and we lower expectations which actually ends up standing in the way of their growth! We put a microscope to everything that they do and forget to allow them to just BE.
But how would that feel to you? If your biting of your nails was a special need. Your smoking. Your thumping of your leg when you are nervous. You need to eat clean or not have lactose. Your introvertedness or your different sleep schedule. If everything you did that wasn’t considered “normal” became a tool for someone to judge you and blame you and discipline you. If the very things that make you, well, you…were used against you to make you different…would you feel free?
I think not.
No two people are the same. Not in need or ability. Isn’t that a beautiful thing?! I love having three differently-abled children, it makes life interesting. Colorful. Educational. Having three special needs kiddos was hard, isolating and full of stigma. People pitied me. Told me I was cursed. Told me I was a saint. No. I’m just a Mom doing her best, like every other Mom.
What makes my kiddos special is their personality, their character, their essence. Their soul. What they need and what they are able to do, just makes them human. Different from the next person. Not less. Not handicapped. Not disabled. Just different.
Seeing them through this lens has helped me to step out of their way and allow them to accept challenges, mature, grow, and succeed.
So, for every professional who has called my boys “special needs”, I say thanks but no thanks. I’m going to call them what they are. Amazing human beings with the potential to do great things. The same as EVERY. BODY. ELSE.
With love,
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