Saturday, February 12, 2011


The terms used for various conditions keep changing. I think "Special Needs" is politically correct at the moment but, like 'disabled,' 'handicapped,' and "crippled,' that may become unacceptable soon.
I remember when people would say 'deaf and dumb" or 'mentally retarded' but those are no longer considered polite.
Actually, saying 'deaf and dumb' was never logical because 'dumb' means not having a voice and most deaf people do have voices. And it was assumed that the inability to talk showed a lack of intelligence so the term, dumb, became a synonym for stupid.
However, in most cases the terms have been changed because people tend to assume that the disabilities/special needs themselves are something to be ashamed of, and that's wrong.
In sports a handicap is something given to a person with greater skills than the competition to make the games fair, so why not use it for people who have a condition that makes life more difficult? It sounds like a compliment to me. And retarded just means slow; there's nothing shameful about that.
The real problem is the attitude that having a special need is something to be ashamed of. Since the ADA was passed people have gotten used to seeing people with those conditions but we still have a long way to go to correct the general attitude about them.
Everyone needs to know the conditions aren't contagious so there's no need to be afraid of people with special needs and they need to know that people who have them are human beings first.
Come to think of it, maybe that prejudice is a special need itself.