Learning Your Child Is Disabled

“Confessions of a Special Needs Dad” is a series of articles related to parenting disabled children. Larry O’Connor’s previous articles on this topic can be found here and here

I received so many positive responses from readers who have related to this series of articles and I appreciate each and every one of them. Some have challenged the use of “disabled” when referring to my children. Let me explain. I often use “special needs” when referring to our children who have disabilities, but not exclusively. My daughter, Quinn, who is an activist for the disabled community has said that the use of “special needs” or “differently-abled” often sounds like abled individuals who are trying to use clever euphemisms to avoid the reality of a persons disability. 

“Disabled” does not mean “unable.” It means that things that may come easy to the abled in a society that is designed and constructed without the disabled in mind are more challenging for those who do not have full use of their limbs or their sight or their voice or full cognitive skills. The accurate description is disabled and can freely be used as a description provided it is not used as an excuse to exclude someone

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