Dear Target, I love you.

I get it.   Brands may not be sure how to reach out to the special needs community.  They may be afraid unintentionally stumbling, or engaging in a verbal misstep.  A lot of people are.

Some kids have extra chromosomes.  Some kids are missing a bit of one……or more.  Some kids can’t handle tags on their clothing. Some kids cruise through the day in wheelchairs. Some kids drag oxygen bottles around with them all day. Some kids will only wear one single color and only  that color.  Some kids have chemo ports, trachs, g-tubes, ostomy bags……and well the list could go on and on.

It’s hard to know how to address ‘different’ sometimes.

But surely a survey or a couple of focus groups of special needs parents would make the case that kids with special needs pretty much like everything their typical peers do.  It can’t be THAT hard to find a wonderful special needs Mama to be a Spokesperson for a brand to help them navigate through the world of special needs. (Should you airbrush the trach out or not?)  Why, I’m not only available, I also have an adorable kid with……wait for it……special needs!

Yet, how  many kids with special needs do you see in clothing ads, Nintendo ads, WalMart ads, Build a Bear ads, Welch’s Grape Juice ads. Seriously.  Couldn’t you thicken that juice first? Let’s face it, if that juice tastes good thickened……it’s only gonna taste better unthickened. And seriously, do only typical kids love Happy Meals?

My dollar spends with just as much power as the dollar of a parent of a typical kid.  But without the same representation.  Wouldn’t we wonder what was going on if all advertising  included only blonde, blue eyed kids with abnormally whitened teeth?

Where’s the brunette,  the redhead,  the child of color, or the one with freckles, or the curly black hair?, we’d exclaim!

When was the last time you looked at a GAP ad and wondered where the kid with Down syndrome was?

Do brands not realize the TRILLION DOLLARS A YEAR OF DISCRETIONARY spending a parent of a kid with special needs lays out each year?

I’m thinking of demanding a refund from each company I’ve purchased from in the last 7 years.  I mean why should I have to fork out money for their advertising costs when they don’t even think my kid and I are worth being advertised to?

(I’m so going to Target to see if I can grab that stripped sleeve shirt for Parker.  We’re talking making history here.)

But wait.

Somebody, somewhere within Target’s corporation took a chance.  Because TARGET’s recent glossy ad included a young man with an extra chromosome.

Oh, yes they did.  And you know what?  Hell didn’t freeze over.  No groups of parents got together to protest the fact that a kid with Down syndrome should only be pictured in the ‘clothes for kids with special needs’ section.  Companies didn’t threaten to pull their labels of f the shelves because a kid with special needs was wearing them.

Nope.  That handsome young man is right next to his typical peers looking all kids of cute in the same types of clothes they are.

For that,  Target just won my loyalty.  Even though it’s a longer drive to get to Target than to Walmart.  Even though Target is sometimes priced a bit more than my Walmart and doesn’t double coupons on Tuesday,  I will make those sacrifices.  It’s the least I can do to show my support to a company who isn’t afraid to show that a kid with special needs is still a kid.  And each time I go through a Target register I’ll let the cashier know why I’ve chosen their store that day.

I’m hoping the voices of other parents of kids with special needs will join mine in thanking Target for stepping over the line of ‘different’, and welcoming kids with special needs into the typical world, recognizing that all kids love cool stuff.

One hell of a way to advocate, Target.   Thank you for building that bridge and opening some eyes.  I sincerely hope you continue to do so.

One day I imagine telling Parker that, believe it or not, there was once a time when you would hardly, if ever, see a kid with special needs in any sort of advertising.  I imagine Parker will shake his head and figure that I’m telling him some kind of whopper as he goes to find my false teeth that I’ve misplaced once again.

Thank you Target.  Thank you for starting what I pray becomes a huge mainstay in today’s society.


Parker and his Mama


About Tammy and Parker

Special Needs Blogger, and homeschooling Mom, heavily involved in advocacy for all kids with special needs in Utah.


  1. Stacy says:

    Awesome. I wonder if Target has a corporate customer relations type person you could e-mail.

  2. You know what? A few months go my friend sent me a picture on my phone. It was her Target ad, and in the toy section, a little Down syndrome girl was playing with a dollhouse with another girl. I looked everywhere for this ad, even online, but couldn’t find it. So this isn’t the first time Target has done this. It was the most noticed though.
    Way to go Target! I love it!
    Lacey and Jax recently posted..The Kate Gosselin complex!My Profile

    • Tammy and Parker says:

      Lacey, I missed the one before too! What I really like about this ad is that it isn’t an add for ‘special abilities’…….it’s just a kid with Ds hanging out with his peeps.

  3. I’ve always loved Target…but now I love them to infinity!!!
    Tiffany recently posted..Olivia Celebrates ChristmasMy Profile

  4. oh my goodness – i new i loved target!
    what a statement this ad makes – ‘that’ kid is just ‘another’ kid hanging out. in an ad. just as he should be ;)
    love you girl!
    jenn perry recently posted..Ringing in a New YearMy Profile

  5. So great! With the news about the “nurse-in” last week Target was looking bad. Even though that was centered around employees attitudes. It’s nice to see that the corporate policy (in things like this – advertising) is really more encouraging! Now, if only we could get the employees to see the same things… but it’s a great start!

  6. Yay! I love seeing that ! My little guy has extra and is missing chromosomes too :)
    nancy d recently posted..Happy Birthday Andrew!My Profile

  7. Chris says:

    So, my only issue, though, is that they are receiving so much external praise for this that it is actually doing that which we didn’t want- calling lots of attention to the fact that a child w/ T21 is used in an ad. One day, I hope it will just be seen as ‘normal’ and not something to be called out and praised. Of course, a huge part of me loves that Target did this, but the cynic in me wonders if they knew all along what great publicity they’d get from it.

  8. Jamie says:
  9. katie williams says:

    My lil boy is 5 yrs old he has a syndrome unknown he has a trach and g tube he’s blind and deaf he has 3 toes on each foot 5 fingers on 1 hand and 3 fingers on the other an he’s in a wheel chair and now I have a 7 months old. I treat my 5 yr old son jus like any other child. What I don’t get is parent and children stoppin and starring I think the children with special needs should be brought to lite for the bravery and challenegs they go threw I believe all the stores hould show special needs kids so when other kids see another child they won’t treat them different I am a very PROUD MOTHER OF MY SON their jus like any other child jus they need a little extra help

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