I am not denying that I need help or that I have a disability. But the needs I have are not “special,”—they’re needs everyone has. I want what most people want out of life. Relationships with people, meaningful use of my time, a position that earns me some form of respect, and so on.
The way I get what I want and need might be different or I might need a bit of help along the way. It is still just as important for me as it is for you to have my needs met. But that doesn’t mean my needs are any different or less important. In some ways, that’s what “special” needs seems to imply—that my needs are not the same as yours or the “special” takes away from their importance.
My needs are not special, they are human.
Don’t get me wrong, I have used the term “special needs” a lot in the past. This website was originally supposed to be called “Special Needs Connection” and was to focus only on what we may think of as “special” needs. I have been able to see what I have done wrong and be more thoughtful about what I say and what it means.
By looking at other social movements, I saw that they have been striving for the same needs. This finally made me realize my needs are not special, they are human.
Founder of Jason’s Connection – an online resource for those with disabilities, mental health, aging and other needs. Jason was awarded an M.S. in Cultural Foundations of Education and Advanced Certificate in Disability Studies from Syracuse University. Jason is also a Project Coordinator and Research Associate at the Burton Blatt Institute, an international think tank for Disability Rights and Human Justice at Syracuse University. He regularly contributes to the blog in his own series called Jason’s View and travels the country consulting and speaking about disability issues and rights. To read more from Jason Harris, read Jason's View.