The language we use to describe disabilities is very important. Let me get something straight, there’s nothing wrong with the word disability. It’s not taboo, it doesn’t upset me if someone calls my son disabled. In fact it’s important to be labelled with a disability in Australia in order to access necessary funding and support.
My issue with the world disability is how others see it as a tragedy. My son is disabled and I'll teach him to be proud of that and his disability does not make him less important than anyone else. He has so many abilities, he is capable and valuable just like anyone else.
There is an acceptance throughout the world that ‘special needs’ is an appropriate way to describe disabled people. Now that I have a child with disabilities I have to disagree. My son’s needs are not special, they are normal needs that all children have. Mikey needs assistance to sit so he has equipment to support him. Sitting is not a ‘special’ need, it is a need we all have. Mikey needs to bathe and to eat, there is nothing special about those things. I think it is more accurate to say additional needs, as people like my son Mikey do require additional care and support.
To help explain this, I would love you to watch this short video. It is excellent!
My son’s disabilities have really opened my eyes to other people facing a similar journey. I now go up to people I would have been nervous to talk to because of my own ableism, and I have a conversation. I look past their wheelchair, their feeding tube or their uncontrolled movements because behind all of that is a person who deserves to be included and treated like everybody else.