World Down Syndrome Day, Special Needs and Words

Well, while I am a day late and a dollar short, (though that has nothing to do really with this blog post… but I digress) I really wanted to share this video which so beautifully captures the sentiment that I have in my heart.

If you have followed my blog over time, you will realize that one of my children has a classified diagnosis of verbal apraxia.  He is a “special needs” child by all definitions.  His needs however are not special.  What he needs is understanding and the right supports, just like every kid his age, just like every person throughout their life!  This is why education and the educational model is sooooo junked up right now… the whole goldfish climbing a tree metaphor and all that… but again, I digress.

Because my son has special needs, I, by proxy, am a “special needs mom” but really, I am just a mom.  I have good mom days, bad mom days, no-shower days, what’s for dinner days, throwing up kid days, award winning kid days… yup, just a mom.

As human beings, we strive to group with like minds, our “tribe” so to speak.  Sadly, I think this often takes us away from people who truly speak our language because they may not look or sound or exist in a way that we perceive our tribe should.  Cultural assumptions about various groups are strong.  As soon a “word” gets associated with you, that word, and all of its connotations stick. When a diagnosis word gets stuck to you or your child, you may flounder trying to figure out what “group” you now belong to. You may feel like you no longer fit one place and have to fit another.  Likewise, you may also think when someone else receives a new “word” in their life that they no longer fit in the place that you are… because of that word.

In the current political environment here in the US right now, I can think of several words that are being bandied about in both positive and negative lights… “snowflake,” “liberal,” “feminist,” “alt-right,” “conservative…” just to name a few.  Heck, you can even take a pop-quiz to determine just exactly what one of many political words “defines who you are.”  Chances are that these words each give you a feeling, good, bad or otherwise.  And the funny part is, based on how the word is being thrown out there it is intended to have either a positive or a negative connotation.

But here’s the thing. A word is just a word.  A word is not a person. A word does not define a person.  Sort of like saying people with Down Syndrome have “special needs.”  What does that make you think… immediately… go ahead and think about it honestly and without judgement and write it down…

 

Did you come up with things like-

suffering

sad

needs “fixing”

needs a lot of help

It wouldn’t surprise me if those things did.  Really.  That is what our society/culture has pegged to that term and what we continue to perpetuate.

March 21 is World Down Syndrome Day.  And this awesome video popped up on my Facebook feed so I had to share it.  Chances are you may have seen it and you may have simply skipped over it but please watch.  This is what people with Down Syndrome really think “special needs” are…

The words we use have power and at the same time they can not take your power unless you let them.  People with Down Syndrome are just people.  They are just like you and me.  Are you special?  And they are too.  Their needs?  Not so much.

Have a word or “label” associated with you or that you have pinned on yourself? (Yup, that happens a lot too don’t you think?!)  Decide today to redefine it or better yet to find better words that describe who you are and what you stand for in this life.

Thanks for stopping by and reading this far 😉

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