Tuesday, August 14, 2012

People First Language

What is people first language you might ask? It's putting the person first and their disability second. Showing the person as an individual first and foremost and not defining them by their condition.

My daughter is not a Downs child. She is not a Down syndrome kid nor a Downs baby. She is a baby that happens to have a medical condition called Down syndrome. She has Down syndrome...Down syndrome does NOT have her.

You would not refer to a child with leukemia as a leukemia kid or a cancer kid...then why do it with Down syndrome? There are so many things that show who my child really is....she is funny, loving, mischievous, precocious, energetic, goofy, tough, a fighter, inspiring. All of which have nothing to do with her disability but simply who she is as a person. She is a child. She is my child. She has a third copy of her 21st chromosome but that does not define her as a human.

By calling a child by their condition first, you devalue them. You separate them from their peers. You shove them aside as "different" and it leaves the person to feel "less than".

So please, when referring to an individual with any disability, refer to them as a person before you characterize them as just a disability.