A few days ago, I found myself telling a colleague that I couldn’t attend a conference, as I try not to travel much any more. “I have two young children,” I explained in an email, “and of them is a special needs kid.”
Wow, did I really write that? I did. Did I mean it? I don’t know. It makes it easier when communicating about my limitations at work. “Special needs” can mean all kinds of things, but everyone realizes that it translates into extra parental responsibilities. That is true for parents of kids with type 1 diabetes, but are our kids “special needs?”
I’m uncomfortable with saying that about my son. He’s psychologically and physically healthy, well adjusted, easy (for the most part) to get along with. He does have this one whopping physical problem that sucks up so much of our time and energy. But is this “special needs?” And why do I even care?
Part of me hates saying “my son has type 1 diabetes.” Outside of our little world, no one knows what that means. I never knew until my son was diagnosed at the age of two. So it makes life easier to just say “special needs.” But I’d better think about this carefully, before I wind up labelling my boy in a way that is inaccurate, or that will cause him upset later on.
What do you think?