People First?

Since I’m on the subject of pet peeves I figure I’ll cover another issue that’s not really a pet peeve of mine, but something I’m curious about other’s opinion. In last week’s post, I wrote about the proper term for individuals with Trisomy 21. It was pointed out to me that in England and Canada the use of Downs or Down’s is the accepted term. Sometimes we forget that the whole world may be visiting your post and not everyone does it like we American’s. (Although we’re right people, get with the program. – I’m just kidding!)

One of the first things I was told about after my daughter was born was people first language. I don’t think we even got out of the hospital before it was brought up. If you aren’t familiar with people first language, it’s when you say the disablity or diagnosis AFTER the person. For instance, instead of saying, “I have a Down syndrome child.” you would say, “I have a child with Down syndrome.” or “child with autism” or “child with special needs.” You get the picture.

Many people I know get very upset if you don’t use people first language. The argument is that the person should always come first. Personally, I agree with this position and always strive to use people first language. However, I have noticed on lots of sites where the author is dealing with a child with special needs they do not use people first language, including, from time to time, here. I know in writing it is easier to not use people first language and writing rules often say to use fewer words to get your point across. I’ve had editors in the past who changed my people first language to “reduce” wordiness.

I’m curious of your thoughts. Is it just one more thing we in the special needs community “harp” on? Is this a regional thing? Do you care? Has anyone ever even pointed it out to you?

20 Responses to People First?