The recent incidents about people in the news using the dreaded "R" word (everyone with a connection to someone with a developmental or intellectual disability knows the word I mean) made me think about something else-the use of the word Special. As in "special needs", "special Olympics", "special ed" and so forth.
I use the term myself. I would certainly call my brother in law with autism a "special needs" person.
Years ago, I used the word "special needs children" (in another context) to someone, who took great offense. "What is so special about special needs children?" she asked. "Isn't every child special?"
Well....yes and no.
Online dictionaries give multiple meanings to the word "special". All I can say is... many of us wish we did not treat people differing from the majority of us in a certain way. But we have, through the years. When my brother in law was growing up, back in the early 60's, we had mostly stopped hiding kids like him in the attic (literally). However, there was still a tendency for well-meaning professionals to suggest institutionalization, so the family could forget about their "mistake" and get on with their lives. I'm glad my in laws didn't make that choice.
My brother in law is a person. He isn't always likeable. But he is different, in a good way. And sometimes a very funny....special person.
We told him he would have chicken for dinner tonight. Husband asked him "how would you like your chicken?" The reply was "Chicken Divan would be nice."
I don't know why, but that tickled me so much, I'm still chuckling.
He isn't getting Chicken Divan, but we are making something....err, special.