How many of you have used the “R” word? If you you didn’t raise your hand, I’m impressed. I grew up when people constantly used that word and unfortunately I used the word too. On my to be an educator and in my efforts to be more inclusive, I have learned that WORDS are paramount. When talking to my class, the words I choose to use can direct how the entire day is going to go. And when talking to and about people with disabilities, it is equally important to choose our words carefully.
People first language is the first step in being more careful with one’s words. The Exceptional Child defines people first language or terminology as referring to people with disabilities with language that speaks of the person first, then the disability.
This means you would say “a child with autism” vs. “an autistic child.”
It is such a simple concept (in some cases, you are only switching the order of words), but the change has a profound effect. And that effect, is that the person has become the focus instead of their disability. They are no longer defined or identified as their disability.
Disability is Natural has a chart of Examples of People First Language.
I encourage you to check it out and examine the words you are using. You will be surprised how many phrases you might need to adjust. And society will be a little bit better thanks to you!
Here is a helpful and short article on the people first language: A Few Words About People First Language.
Something to remember from Disabilityisnatural.com:
A person with a disability is more like people without disabilities than different!
lots of love & sunshine, Ms. Sarah