Father Steven P. Tsichlis wrote this short and insightful piece which combines a respect for the dignity of the child with disabilities with the gravity of the situation of the family with a child with special needs, as well as the need for the rest of us to reflect before blurting out something unhelpful. Here it is: http://www.stpaulsirvine.org/html/specialneeds.htm
There’s a lot of content on this parish’s website (the list on the right of the page) For instance, under “People,” “Special Folks” at St. Paul’s: http://www.stpaulsirvine.org/html/specialfolks.htm
You were expecting people with disabilities? Well, I fooled you. Instead, two remarkable older ladies are featured. They, too, are indeed special. The word “special” has a much wider application than it’s connotations in the disability community. And it can be used to segregate rather than honor people with disabilities. There’s a real need for fresh expressions to get across messages to other people’s hearts. So let’s work on it!
Reprint (with revisions) from April 2007