Thursday, January 10, 2019

One of the best things anyone's called my child with disabilities

What do you call a child with disabilities? For years, I used the term "special needs." As Max got older and I began hearing from adults in the disability community, I realized the euphemism wasn't doing him any favors. Owning the word "disability" could help Max embrace his cerebral palsy and not feel like there was anything "wrong" with him.

Having a child with disabilities can be hard for parents to accept, one reason it may be tempting to use "special needs." Parents of children with minor challenges may feel that "disability is "too strong." Yet a study published in the journal of Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications found that "special needs" had a more negative connotation than "disability."

I have been trying to only use the term "disabilities" and "cerebral palsy," especially around Max. I also like another way people have described Max: as "a character." It first happened several years ago, when Max was into wearing a red plastic firefighter hat at all times that said "Fireman Max." I was reminded of it over the weekend, when we went out to to dinner. Sabrina had been acting up that day and was somewhat surly when we sat down. After we ordered, three police officers walked in and took a table. A few minutes later Max got up, walked over to them and tapped one of them on the shoulder. "She's bad!" he said, pointing to Sabrina.

The police officer looked at me. Sabrina cracked up, because she knew exactly what Max was saying. "He's telling you she's bad," I translated. The officers laughed. When I shared on Facebook, someone said, "He is such a character!" And it's true—that's  Max's sense of humor and quirks, in a nutshell.

Max doesn't yet have a defined way of referring to himself. That will come. For now, I will keep on saying he has disabilities. But I also just love calling him a character. I'd like to think he inherited it from me.

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Thanks for sharing!

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