Saturday, October 11, 2008

People First Language

This is a MUST read.

If you were to be involved in any type of public service, especially if dealing with people that have different "abilities." One of the first things that you would learn is something called People First Language (PFL).

What does this mean? It means that people are people first, regardless of their diagnosis.

Let's say I am diagnosed with migraine headaches.

Would you say...
She is migraine or She has a migraine

Would you say...
Migraine people or People with migraines

The diagnosis, does not account for who I am. I am person first, and I just happen to have a migraine.

Now let's do a little exercise. Let's talk about Down syndrome...
She is Down's or She has Down syndrome
Down's babies or Babies with Down syndrome

My daughter is NOT Down syndrome.
Down syndrome is something that she has, not something that she is.
Down syndrome does not define who she is as a baby.

Nichole is a baby FIRST, and she just happens to have Down syndrome.

Andy will be the first one to say he does not hear it all the time, sometimes he slips and does not use PFL. Me, on the other hand, hear it every single time. It is possible that I have been talking to you and I have gently corrected you, please do not take it personal, it is just that my baby is not her diagnosis. She is a baby, really, weather she has Down syndrome or not.

On a similar note, I was asked

Is it...
Down's syndrome
Down syndrome

It is Down syndrome. But, in other places, like the UK, it is Down's syndrome. So, it really does not matter, just for as long as you use People First Language. :)

1 comment:

  1. Kristy8:37 PM

    Great explanation Ellen. For me, when I hear "he IS Down syndrome" Or "Down syndrome child" it is like fingernails on a chalk board to me! I absolutely hate it! Years ago, when we first began IMDSA, I used a very similar explantion that you used here. And, I said if your mother has high blood pressure you wouldn't say "She IS high blood pressure"!! Down syndrome and mosaic Down syndrome are medical diagnosis. They are not WHO the person is. If anything, this is just bad grammer.
    Thanks for bringing great information!


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