Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Special Needs

The other day, Kyle casually referred to Collin as having special needs and I practically hit the floor. Not that there is any question in my mind that Collin has many, many needs that other babies don't have - it's just that the connotation of that particular phrase is so snide and even cruel that it took the wind out of me to hear it used by my favorite person about my second favorite person. And I immediately flashed back through innumerable generic times when I used similar terms out of total thoughtlessness. I couldn't even claim ignorance since my own beloved Uncle Brian has many of these same 'needs', so it really makes me want to punch my old self in the face.

The look on my face must have been something fierce because Kyle looked confused and sort of scared and ended up explaining that he doesn't associate anything negative with those words anymore - that we don't have to be afraid to use them because they're true and because it is, in a way, special that Collin has so many unique challenges that we have the privilege of helping him face. Our love for him is completely unaffected by his needs - unless it is some way fortified by them - and we can even take a sort of pride in the words because they describe Collin and we are beyond proud of him.

So, the next time you hear someone throwing around these or similar words to be condescending or otherwise mean, kindly write down '' for them and explain that you know someone incredible who has special needs.

Right after you punch them in the face.


  1. I have been reading Collin's blog faithfully ever since John sent me the link several weeks ago. I am so proud of you and Kyle and I am in complete awe of Collin. He really is a champ. All our love and thoughts are with you.

  2. Bravo! This sums up perfectly the way I felt when our little guy was first referred to as a "special needs" kid. I thought I was used to it until someone over the phone referred to him as disabled and I thought to myself "lady, you are lucky that you are talking to me over the phone!" :) It is just all part of this long, challenging journey and a great opportunity to educate and enlighten some of the people who cross our paths.

  3. Punch first THEN blog address. Got it.

    I think Kyle is right though I definitely don't associate anything negative with the term special needs. Plus, I think since that can mean anything from ADD to autism (and there's such a wide spectrum in autism alone) people don't have specific associations with the term.

    BUT if they do punch first then address ( I wrote it on my hand in case I forget ) ;)

  4. I felt I needed to post a comment on this subject because I work with alot of preschool children who, in fact, are "special needs" children. We don't refer to them as downs, deaf, autisic, CHARGE, apraxic or any other word that describes what their real issue is. We refer to them as "special needs" as in they have more "needs" than some of our other children. They may need to swing throughout the day, get pulled from class for OT, PT, speech or brushing but not in any way are we refering to them as disabled, but that they have "special needs". So before punching someone in the face, make sure you know what they are refering to when they use those words.

    You see, Kyle is my nephew (my sister's son) who I have loved and cared about since the day he was born. Now I am priviledged to have another newphew, refered to as Collin the Champ, that I will love and care about with all my heart forever and ever no matter what. So you see, love from family and friends is all that really matters, not the words, expressions or stare's you may encounter over the years, but what comes from your true family and friends. They will be by your side forever and that is all that really matters.

    A good friend of mine has a deaf/blind little girl, who attends our school, who told me once that a stranger walked up to her when she was at the mall and said how sorry she was about Maddie and mom replied, "what are you sorry for, she is happy as can be and loved by her family and friends". I am sure that person never said those words to anyone ever again and felt very foolish.

    All my love to Kyle, Annie & Collin

  5. How about a "Needy, Very Special" person. That's my daughter. Born with CP 31 years ago we were told she would never walk, talk and would be blind. But we believed in God who can do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20) Jodie graduated from Stuebenville "BIG RED" High School in 1999 ( we wanted to send copies of her diploma to all the Drs. who said she would never be or do anything!).

    My wife and I entend our prayer support to Collin and Family. Afterall, it's been prayer and trust in God that has gotten us this far in our journey with Jodie. God can and will also bless you beyond what you can perceive. I pray you will trust Him if you have not already.

  6. Our dear sweet Annie has an inner lioness it seems! Your thoughts here promote a healthy pause to contemplate which words we use and how we employ them.... I continue to offer thoughts and prayers for you all. Otherwise, I'll be on the lookout in the news for a black eye epidemic in Louisville.

  7. Hey Miss Annie,
    I just picked up our milk at the Sands' house and saw a gallon marked "Kratzsch" in the cooler. Carden pointed it out to me, actually. And with flawless logic, I said that it must be you because I don't know any other Kratzsches. Well, I was right.
    It's special milk, as I'm sure you know. The farmers are so fantastic and I'm sure they're sending you all good medicine in every gallon.
    Maybe we'll meet up some week.
    We love you!

  8. I understand your reaction, being a mommy myself. There are so many words that can hurt or help (James 3 has so much to say on that)and of course the intent behind the words is often what carries the good or bad connotation.

    What matters most is that Collin answers your heart. God made the three of you a family (He sure does have some great ideas) and that's one of the biggest blessings we get here on earth.

  9. Don't we all have "special needs"?

    Based on my observations of others, and what I see when I examine myself, I believe we do.

    Hang in there. You thress are doing great!

  10. Hey,

    From now on, I think I will proof read my comment BEFORE I post it!

  11. Yes, we did see SOME indications of this violent steak in Annie as a child. I'm just glad we were able to channel it in the right direction! I can't express how very, very proud we are of these 3 SPECIAL people.

  12. Language is so powerful, and yet so many people use it with no idea what they're mindlessly slinging about. I think it is wonderful for you to wage war on thoughtless language users. "Special needs" was once a useful phrase coined with the best of intentions; by using it sincerely, you'll be able to bring it back to the good side of the force. As a society, we've already relinquished too many well-meaning words to the cruel and judgmental.