The first time someone referred to my son as special needs it struck me like a slap across the face. It wasn’t intended that way; I just don’t consider him special needs.
But I guess his food allergies are special needs. I just don’t want them to be. I want him to be normal, whatever than means.
Food allergies are an invisible disability, which might be why I don’t think of them as special needs. I don’t see my son’s food allergies when I look at him. I see an adorable three year old who melts my heart. Of course I would see him that way; I’m his mother. But others don’t see his food allergies either. They just see a toddler.
And therein lies the threat.
Last fall, before my son had any awareness of his allergies, we went to a parade where participants were throwing candy into the crowd. A well-meaning grandmother (no relation) kept handing candy to us. I didn’t have the energy to explain to her why our son couldn’t have the candy. Thankfully, at two, he wasn’t all that interested; he was more into the fire trucks.
This year, we went to the same parade and he delighted in collecting candy (we came home with a bagful) but now he understands that some foods, candy included, make him sick. For the most part, he’s happy with whatever safe alternative we provide. And he doesn’t get upset when he’s eating a Popsicle while all his classmate get to enjoy ice cream.
I hope that one day this won’t be the case. I hope that one day he won’t have any special needs. But, for now, food allergies are our reality and the only label I care to deal with is a nutritional label.
Disclaimer: This post was inspired by Expecting Adam: A True Story of Birth, Rebirth, and Everyday Magic, a beautifully written memoir by Martha Beck about expecting a child with Downs Syndrome. As a member of the From Left to Write Book Club, I received this book for free. These opinions are my own. This post is not intended as a review. The book link is an Amazon Affiliate link.