Difficult to define what's normal

Normal. It's a difficult word to define. Webster takes a stab at it: "According with, constituting, or not deviating from a norm, rule, or principle.' That works fine for some things. We all know our body temperature needs to be around 98 degrees to be considered normal. It's normal to witness flocks of geese heading south in the fall and back north again in the spring. But try to apply the word normal to people, and it becomes a sticky situation.
Matt DeYoung
May 14, 2011


What is normal? My wife and I have been blessed with four children, and I’d hesitate to categorize any of them as normal. Why would I want to? I can’t think of anything worse than slapping that label on someone. My kids are all special in their own way, and I’m sure every parent feels the same way about their children.

Which brings us to another sticky situation. Last week, I wrote an article about Get Hooked, a wonderful program that, in the words of event organizers, aims to enable “the disabled to achieve their dreams in the outdoors” by taking a large group of special-needs children fishing for a day.

In an unfortunate and careless choice of words, I wrote that the program allows special-needs children to act like “normal” kids. That sentence implies that the special-needs children to whom Get Hooked caters are in one way or another abnormal, a stigma which carries with it a negative connotation.

To label anyone as abnormal was certainly not my intention. Instead, I hoped to convey that through this program, children who may be facing various challenges in their lives get a chance to enjoy a worry-free morning in the great outdoors.


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