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Special Needs at the State Fair Competition September 17, 2008

Posted by hopeauthority in Autism, Children, Parenting.
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Ahhh. Fall…autumn. Call it what you will, but as soon as school becomes routine again, another big family tradition bursts on to the scene: Fair season! And nothing says autumn like a big ol’ agricultural fair.

Who could resist the midway with its games and rides? The food booths with their tempting smells. The animals (with their not-so-tempting smells). And, of course, the competitive exhibits, with their lure of the blue ribbon…

I’ve been a competitive baker and canner for 20 years. (Yes its me and all the little old ladies keeping the art of canning pickles and jams alive.) I’ve entered fairs in New York, Connecticut and even Nevada. I must have about 1,000 ribbons.  My 10 year old daughter has been entering for 6 years in the Youth competitions. She bakes, cans, and also does crafts… unlike her mom, who has two left thumbs which are usually glue-gunned together.

This year, I’ve decided that my son will enter. The fair is Sept 26-28th.  There are three craft items he’s made this year that are particularly beautiful. One is a drawing (which I framed), one is an egg-carton schoolbus (recycling category), and the last one is a menorah he made at school with toilet paper tube “candles” with tissue paper “flames” (the paper tube construction category). I loved that menorah when it came home from school last year and proudly stuck it right out there with the Santas and our nativity. It’s really a thing of beauty.

The challenge was deciding whether to check off “special needs” on my son’s entry form. The designation is apparently is only known to the judges, not to the public.

On one hand, I don’t want him to miss out on winning ribbons and the joy that comes from that experience, if his artistic talent is also “delayed” a bit when compared directly to his peers. So, I think I should level the field.  But on the other hand, I don’t want to have to always say he’s “special needs”. It’s a freakin painted egg-carton here.  So, what did I do?

I caved and checked the box… because I wanted to err on the side that won’t disappoint my son. But I can’t shake off that nagging feeling that I somehow sold him out by doing it.

So I’ll keep my fingers crossed. Of course, I have no choice as they are glue-gunned together…

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