The other week, I wrote a post for Parents.com about stuff not to say to parents of kids with special needs. One of the things I griped about: when people tell me "He looks so normal!" To me, that's rude. So I was totally taken aback by commenters who insisted that their kids are not normal. As one wrote, "Actually, the truth is, my child is different. She is not normal." Another felt the need to point out, "I think it is dishonest to say that most of these kids will lead normal lives, because generally it will not be the stereotypical 'normal' that you think of."
So let's talk about normal.
If you define "normal" as having a lack of disabilities, well, that is a seriously narrow-minded way of looking at the world. Really, there is no such thing as normal. Standard issue is only for parts that come off an assembly line. Every person out there has his quirks and differences. My neurotypical child doesn't fit the mold of "normal." Neither do I. Woo hoo!
I have no delusions that my child has challenges that are different from ones the majority of kids have. But to define him as "not normal" implies that he is wholly different than other kids, like a different species of kid. And actually, in many ways, he is like other kids. As I've said before, his personality is not disabled.
What most gets to me is that viewing your child through the lens of "not normal" isn't a healthy perspective, even if you'd never actually say those words to your kid. It's a negative attitude that is sure to seep down to a child. It's the opposite of being a cheerleader and a champion, what our kids so need. I don't want my kid growing up thinking he's not normal—or any nots whatsoever. I want him focused on the great stuff he is, and what he can do.
Considering your child "not normal" will only make others view him that way, too. Our kids have enough to overcome in this world. They don't need their own parents heightening their differences.
I don't go around thinking or saying Max is "normal." I just avoid that label, period. Its useless, for kids with special needs—and humans in general.
What say you?