I’m Not a “Special Needs Mom”

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I see “special needs mom” floating around in the Down syndrome and interwebs often, always more in the holiday or IEP season. There are listicles on the “special needs mom,” memes on this person, blog posts and The Mighty posts – it’s all out there!  I’m not her, though.

I am not a “special needs mom”

People might think I am. I’m deaf, after all. Being deaf is, according to the “special needs” stuff, full of “special needs,” right?

But let’s see exactly what my needs really are, according to me.

I need:

woman smiles into the camera with a necklace of a nest and three eggs meriah nichols love and disability

I need opportunities. I have a lot of potential and I need the chance to grow and see my potential flourish.

I need to contribute. I need to work or put my energy forward in a way that is satisfying to me and contributes to creating good in the world.

I need to have fun. I need to laugh and enjoy my life.

I need community. I need friends, acquaintances, people who care and know me.

I need love. I need to give and receive love.

I need sustenance. I need food, water, air. I need money to secure and build a life.

These needs are not "special"

They are human needs, not “special needs.”

I am deaf and I have complex PTSD but those make me a mom with a disability (or a “deaf mom” or even “disabled mom”), not a “special needs mom”

Oh wait!

You didn’t mean me? You meant that I’m a “special needs mom” because I have a child with “special needs”?

Oh, okay. My daughter has Down syndrome, and that’s also something that the “special needs” crew defines as a “special need.”

Let’s see if those needs of my daughter’s are really special:

My daughter needs opportunities. She has a lot of potential and she needs the chance to grow and see her potential flourish.

She needs to contribute. She needs to work or put her energy forward in a way that is satisfying to her and contributes to creating good in the world.

She needs to have fun. She needs to laugh and enjoy her life.

She needs community. She needs friends, acquaintances, people who care and know her.

She needs love. She needs to give and receive love.

She needs sustenance. She needs food, water, air. She will need money to secure and build a life for her future.

Are these needs “special”?

No, they are human needs, not “special needs.”

She has Down syndrome.

That makes her a child with a disability, not a person with “special needs.”

No "Special Needs" Here; Just Human Needs

preparing to travel with a disability: image of a woman on the left and a young girl on the right. they are both smiling, with brown hair and light eyes. the woman is wearing hearing aids and the child has Down syndrome

Either way you have it – be it with my own disability (or disabilities), or through my daughter’s Down syndrome, I am emphatically NOT a “special needs mom”.

I am a deaf mom, yes. I’m a disabled mom, yes. I have a daughter who has Down syndrome, yes. I have a disabled child, a child with a disability, yes.

But there is one thing I am NOT: a “special needs mom”

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Meriah
Meriah Nichols is a career counselor, teacher and blogger. Single mom to 3 (one with Down syndrome, one gifted 2E), she is also a cat-loving Trekkie who likes her coffee hot and black.
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