An exceptional son, but not for your reasons

The Oxford English Dictionary defines “exceptional” as “of the natural of or forming an exception; out of the ordinary course, unusual, special.”

My kindergarten-aged son is not “exceptional” because he is also in possession of an IEP — an “individualized education plan” — or because he might be on the autism spectrum. He is “exceptional” because he is who God made him to be.

He is “exceptional” in his own right, a child who can simultaneously read at a second-grade level and not consistently use the bathroom properly. He is a child who can spell a surprisingly number of complex words, but not necessarily use complete sentences. He is quirky. He is loving — and he makes me laugh every single day. It is an honor to be his mother.

When did it become OK for this community to label my child as “exceptional” and hold an “Exceptional Games” event for him and other kids with IEPs, complete with media attention?

He will not be part of your inspirational, feel-good story. He will not be objectified as others in the differently abled community, including activist Stella Young who succinctly explained: “Disability doesn't make you exceptional, but questioning what you think you know about it does.”

Laura Hannon


Copyright © 2019, The Virginia Gazette