As many of you heard, I attended an Early Intervention Partners Project conference on Friday and Saturday. This conference taught me many different things about the Early Intervention program and I learned a lot about what I can use to help Nathan, and other families with questions. It was a wonderful experience and I can’t wait to reconnect with the people I met in August for our last training session.
We received quite a bit of information in different packets they handed out during the conference. One thing I just came across as I was examining these folders was an article by Kathie Snow about “People First Language”. It describes wonderfully the importance of seeing the person before the disability. So many people say that it doesn’t matter if they use the “r” word because they don’t mean it that way. Others think it doesn’t make a difference if they say “Down syndrome baby” or “Downs kid”. Well guess what….it does matter. It matters to so many families and kids who are on the receiving end of these comments, whether they are on purpose or said inadvertently. Since Nathan was born, I have been on a small crusade to get people to stop using words that are demeaning and to also learn “people first language”. Do I think I can change the world? Most likely not. Do I feel compelled to try my best for my beautiful little boy and all of those other people in the world with disabilities? Absolutely!
One of the quotes on the page is by Mark Twain (one of my favorites)…”The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug.”
So take some time out to think before you use certain words next time. It may not be a big deal to you, but I can assure you it is a huge deal to someone who might be around you or with whom you might associate. “People First Language puts the person before the disability, and it describes what a person has, not who a person is.
Are you “myopic” or do you wear glasses?
Are you “cancerous” or do you have cancer?
Is a person “handicapped/disabled” or does she have a disability?”
If you have a chance, check out her website: http://www.disabilityisnatural.com. She has a lot of great information and resources.
And just remember, the next time you’re tempted to call yourself the “r” word because you locked yourself out of your house, picture Nathan’s face in your head and then try to complete that sentence.