I don't like the term "Developmentally Disabled". It literally means, not able to grow, not able to learn, not able to achieve. However, not liking it does not change the fact that Gabe will always be given various labels condensed to initials to describe who he is--ds, mr, asd, and dd--as in down syndrome, mentally retarded, atrial septal defect, and developmentally disabled.
I've decided to change dd to Developmentally Different. Because he IS able to grow and learn and achieve, but he IS different. He learns differently and his achievements come about in ways that I don't even expect.
For instance, before he began to talk at all I would read books to him about animals and point to the animals and make the animal sounds and ask him where they were and what they said. He never responded to me. He just looked at the pages and turned them. I was certain that nothing was sticking and he just wasn't ready for it.
One day I heard him babbling to himself. I walked up behind him to see him with an open book on his lap, pointing to a cow, and saying, "Moo!".
Just days later we were at the park and a girl walked by us with her dog. Gabe got very excited, started patting his leg (the sign for dog that I'd shown him but he'd never repeated) and saying, "Woof, woof!". He was obviously taking it all in and just needed an appropriate--to him--outlet for the information.
Recently, Gabe has begun toilet training. He is actually on pace and even ahead of many of my other children. He calls the toilet "pot" and says "pot...pot....pot" while he goes. One day he looked at me and started bobbing his head up and down rhythmically and said, "pot..hot..pot..hot..pot..hot". He calls the stove "hot" and it dawned on him that the two words rhymed and he just enjoyed saying them together. That seems pretty "abled" to me.
So, as long as I can come up with my own definitions for labeling initials I won't mind them so much.