- Normal means conforming to a standard.
- Norm means, something that is usual, typical or standard.
- Average means, the result obtained by adding several quantities, which in an IQ test, 90-109 is considered average. (And yes, I believe those tests are good for those that test well. Not so much for those that are visual or auditory learners and especially not for the special needs community.)
- Typical, having the distinctive qualities of a particular type of person.
- Exceptional means, unusual and not typical.
In conversations, when people referred to their children as normal, they are implying that my child is not. It is then that I correct them and say “you mean your child is typical?”. When I do this, people get all huffy because; one, I corrected them and two, because they think I am being too sensitive. They are ever so careful not to say “retarded”, however this was the term that many grew up with. Often this word slips out when they talk about something mindless they did themselves. This word does not bother me one way or another, but I do care about the intention and tone as to how words are used. When they are used to intentionally inflict pain and put someone down, then my hackles rise.
Jess would be the first to tell you that she is exceptional! I find this amusing because she found the exact, correct word to describe herself, this child that so many have dismissed over the years because she can’t talk and walks with an ataxic gait. Though Jess has not been able to get her body to cooperate, she has shown that she has had a lot to think about. Behind her Angelman Syndrome diagnosis is a typical person and probably an average child with flashes of brilliance. I only wish I had realized this much, much sooner. Unfortunately, the world doesn’t bother to peel back the layers to see what is below the surface. As a world culture, we are quick to define and quick to place people in boxes. By doing this, there is no place to go, no way to grow. I hope to blow the lid off this way of thinking. Oh, and by the way, all of those people that are comforted by the fact that their children are normal, they are actually saying they are just average.