Don’t dis differently- abled

Published 12:24 am Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Many people may not know it, but two of my three children are “disabled.”

I have several friends with “disabled” children or loved ones.

And ever since I found out that the middle child had some, well we’ll just call them issues, we’ve used the term “disabled.”

I hate it.

To me, the word brings to mind something that does not to work or to no longer have a function – like that broken down Chevy on blocks sitting in the junkyard.

That word doesn’t define my children; nor would I imagine the others you know.

It’s always been hard to describe my girls’ specific issues; however, while doing some Internet shopping, I came across a term that – with respect to Toys-R-Us – I’m going to use as my own … “differently-abled.”

It’s an all-encompassing term, I think. I really, really like it.

They had a whole catalogue dedicated to children with special needs outlining how each toy relates to the five senses, cognitive skills and so on.

There were neat little color-coded labels that would help you locate the toy that emphasized the skills you either wanted to work on or highlight.

Wouldn’t it be great if the things in life were labeled as such? Because if you think about it, we’re all a little differently-abled.

Take left-handed people for instance, and let me preface this by saying my oldest is left-handed. I can bet you that if there were a list for differently-abled people, left-handed people would be at the top.

Doors open just so for right-handed people and you generally have to special order left-handed baseball gloves and guitars.

Second spot on the list, I would think would go to the glasses-wearing people of the world. I might would also throw in the contact lens-wearing people in the world, too.

Third spot would definitely go to the entire art community. If Jackson Pollock can make paint splatter art and Vincent Van Gogh cut off his ear for the sake of art, I would definitely say they, and other artists like them, are differently-abled.

And if you throw in the artists of the world, one wouldn’t want to forget the singers, dancers and writers.

What about the people who can build a computer from a toaster but can’t hold a conversation with a stranger? They, too, are differently-abled.

The list could go on and on, and one thing is certain – as far as lists go, you can bet you’re on it, somewhere in some form or fashion, because we are all differently-abled.

Labels are just that: labels, which are meant to be peeled off, rolled into a little ball and tossed into the garbage can.

So the next time you see someone who you think looks acts, or walks differently, don’t label them. Remember, they and we are all differently-abled.