People First Language

A lot of us will be seeing relatives and church friends and neighbors and their relatives and undoubtedly come in contact with people of all abilities and backgrounds…. So I wanted to share about something that I have learned and have come to really find very helpful in loving people well.

When it comes to individuals who have diff-abilities or different situations… It’s VERY loving to use People First Language. People First Language seeks to put the person first and the disability second! People with disabilities are people, first and foremost!

When we speak differently, we’ll think differently, and then we’ll act differently!
Instead of: Normal or healthy kids. Say: Typical developing kids
Instead of: The handicapped or disabled. Say: People with disabilities.
Instead of: He’s Down’s or Down’s baby Say: He has Down syndrome (or my favorite has the “Love” or “Extra” chromosome)
Instead of: Brain damaged, or He’s mentally retarded. Say: He has a cognitive disability or brain injury
Instead of: Birth defect Say: Congenital disability
Instead of: She’s Autistic or that Autistic girl. Say: She has autism (or a diagnosis of…)
Instead of: Is non-verbal Say: Communicates with her eyes/device/etc.
Instead of: She’s confined to/is wheelchair bound. Say: She uses a wheelchair/walker
Instead of: Handicapped parking, hotel room, etc. Say: Accessible parking, hotel room, etc.

Instead of: What’s wrong with him/her? Say: Why or How does his/her____ work differently? A disability simply represents a body part that works differently!

 THIS is a great Article on Changing the way we use the term “Wrong” when describing someone or their actions. (I’m going to be really honest… I cried reading it because I myself have been tempted to say this regarding behaviors of my out-of-the-box acting son.) Read it!! It’s well worth your time. 

You can apply this also to other people. Such as…..

Instead of: Homeless person Say: a family/person experiencing homelessness right now.

Instead of Foster Kid/Child : Say: Boy/Girl/Child/Their name who receive foster care services.” Referring to a child’s status in foster care should be used ONLY when it’s truly relevant. Are they foster kids when at dance class or during sports or at school? No, they’re ballerinas, hockey players, and students.

Instead of Adopted Kids. Say: Children you’ve adopted

Instead of “Where are they from?” Say: What is their heritage? And while you’re at it… find out your own heritage! It may surprise you! And it gives you a fun conversation piece to share with whoever you start that conversation topic with.

Instead of Real Children or your Own Children: Say: Biological Children.

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