People First Language!

Sheena - posted on 07/11/2009 ( 2 moms have responded )

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Hello all,

Just wanted to vent a little and educate those who don't themselves or know people who don't use People First Language what it's about. My boyfriend has a daughter with Down Syndrome and I also work with children with special needs providing therapy on a daily basis. I make a conscious effort to use this in both my professional and personal life.

People first language is about putting the person BEFORE the disability. Of course regardless of the diagnosis someone has they are a person FIRST.

So for example instead of labeling someone as autistic you would say He/She has autism. Someone with disabilities or different abilities instead of handicapped or disabled.
He/she has schizophrenia instead of a schizophrenic.
Also I try to not use the word "normal" who defines normal anyway?
So I would say something they do shows typical vs atypical development or child/adult without disabilities.

You get the idea... Now spread the word! It's not hard to do this, we just need to be more aware of our words and the labels that can be given at a young age. If those negative words are what our children are hearing from their own family that's what they are going to grow up saying and believing. Let's let them define themselves and not be defined by a diagnosis or label!

2 Comments

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DJ - posted on 02/02/2015

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Autistic isn't a bad word. Sad to see people acting like it is. Some of us whom are autistic parents of autistic kids find this passionate preaching of so called person first to be paternalistic, arrogant and dehumanizing. As if I'm not a "person first" if you refer to me as autistic? Autism is a part of me and the only folks that seem to have a problem with that are people who don't understand autistics or who wish their kids were not autistic. Don't put your personal struggle with acceptance on our shoulders. We've got enough to deal with. Let your kids decide how they want to be addressed. Acting like part of their identity is shameful or negative is sad and abusive. The rest of the world does enough damage to those of us born outside the norm. Our own parents shouldn't be a part of it.

Amy - posted on 07/11/2009

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Thank you! As a mother of a child with multiple diagnoses, including autism. It really gets to me when I hear some one say an "autistic child" I admit, I didn't aways use people first language, but am an advocate for it now. I've had someone ask me if I have an autistic son...I respond to them "I have a son with autism, yes"

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