Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Had a Spaz

In one of my lives today, researching headlines for the organization whose social networking I run, I came across the phrase "special needs mass." I didn't read the article, on purpose, so I have no idea what this is supposed to mean. A mass with special needs? A mass for a person with special needs? Who knows?

Not to mention the fact that the phrase "special needs" is not en vogue, at least not in the States. Disability and special healthcare needs is a phrase that gets bandied about, because often a kid with asthma or diabetes isn't considered as having a disability but has an IEP or 504 plan and needs to be discussed. But "special needs", not so much. Special snowflake, if you must.

But whenever I start considering language, I start thinking about my own. I often claim that I--and other people with disabilities--are allowed to use non-PC disabilit-related language. We're fighting the fight, we have the right. However, my favorite term lately has been "had a spaz." My computer "had a spaz," the scanner at work "had a spaz." Now, spas is colloquially  kind of an all-purpose word for people with physical disabilities--spastic limbs--but it most directly relates to people with epilepsy--spazzing--again in the slang. Can I say that because I had a seizure at the age of eighteen months that I'm allowed? Probably not. Constantly worrying about seizures, being on medication for them, losing control of bodily function because of them--none of that is something I've had to deal with.

So, I'm not a person with this disability. The word isn't mine. I could ignore that, but then would I be the reporter talking about a special needs mass? It's a thought.

In the mean time, I need something new to describe the freak-outs my computer has. Any ideas?