And why the continued stigma in 2009?
“Special needs” definition per Merriam Webster is “the individual requirements (per education) of a person with a disadvantaged background or a mental, emotional, or physical disability, or a high risk of developing one.” Well goodness, that sounds like just about everyone I know in one way or another.
Take a moment and think for yourself! Do you know anyone with an anxiety disorder, schizophrenia, bipolar, disadvantaged background, auditory, visual, diabetes, obesity (metabolic), pituitary issues, scoliosis, rheumatoid arthritis, stroke, heart disease, cancer, ADD, ADHD, autism etc., etc., and then of course the obvious syndromes, mental delays. Are you feeling the same way I was. Well aren’t we ALL at some point “special needs”? The only difference is where on the continuum you fall.
If mental delays are ones sticking point, then know this. The average IQ is 100!! Do you know what population falls below 100??? 50%. That is a whole lot of America running on brain power that we consider to be lower tier. But look how fabulous our nation is. The belief that IQ denotes everything, overrated???
Why do we have these stigmas? At a quick glance, my opinion is that downward comparisons make us feel better, and that we are just weary of what we do not understand as a nation. What is a downward comparison? Well, let’s first discuss upward. These are the ones that wreak havoc on our self-esteem “she has a bigger house, smarter kids, better job, etc. Downward one’s make us feel better about ourselves. For example, he doesn’t make as much money, I am prettier, more intelligent, my kid’s are more athletic, etc. Get the point! If you are not feeling so good who is the ultimate downward comparison but a child that is inflicted earlier, rather than later, with a “special need”. This is mainly true for a child, parents/persons with low self-esteem. Note: this is often not something we could even admit to ourselves, but, “if it does not apply, let it fly.”
Now, that being said, I do not think this is the pervasive thinking among MOST individuals. Often many are just weary of the unknown. There is a mystery or aura around what we do not feel comfortable discussing or addressing. So, we create our own notions to fill in the blanks, fall back on old stereotypes, or just continue to have discomfort with the whole subject altogether. Who can blame anyone for this? Who knows what the correct thing to say to a person who has not had cancer, a death of a child, and YES a child with a “special need”, etc? NO ONE!! However, understanding the “Why’s” are crucial to rewiring the way we think about a subject. Now that we may have some understanding as to the “Why” let’s look at what you can do about it.
Top Ten Appropriate Things to Do or Say:
** Feel free parents of special needs children to post some of your own!!