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Sorry, Your Kid Doesn't Have 'Special Needs'

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Guest blogger Jana Mathews: There once was a time not so long ago when every minivan in America had a bumper sticker that read, "My child is an honor student at X elementary school." In recent years, however, this classic marker of distinction has been replaced by something else.

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Instead of battling over whose child is the smartest, many parents these days are engaged in a heated debate over whose child's "disability" requires the most number of special accommodations.

I got a taste of how bad things have become at Back to School Night, where parents of my daughter's classmates couldn't stop yapping about how hard it is to parent a child with ____ disability (fill in the blank, almost anything applies!).

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but Johnny's pollen allergy and Suzie's crooked teeth are not disabilities, at least not in the world of normal people. Neither are Billy's fear of ghosts and Mary's dislike of green vegetables.

Having one of these "conditions" and others like them, I regret to say, does not warrant labeling your child as "special needs," but rather, simply means that your child (and every child) is special, as in unique.

Rather than obsessing over what your child can't eat or do, try putting all of that time and energy into celebrating and cultivating the many talents, skills, and attributes with which your child is blessed.

Of course that's hard to do when so much of your day is spent garnering sympathy for the personal sacrifices you make coping with junior's most serious developmental delay: his difficulty using scissors.

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