Monday, October 29, 2007

Get it Down: 31 for 21 Day 29

This is says it all...It's called "Thoughtful Language Can Put People First!" One of my biggest pet peeves is when people refer to my son or anyone else with DS as a "Down's kid"or a "Down baby"...oh my goodness, it makes my skin crawl! My son is neither, for he is a person FIRST! DS does NOT define who he is simply one part of who he is. Jack is a child who has Down syndrome...he is not Down syndrome. Here are some exerpts from the article...

Watch your Language
Our goal is to open doors, and keep them open. Here are a few reminders for language usage:

An individual with Down syndrome is an individual first and foremost. The emphasis should be on the person, not the disability. A person with Down syndrome has many other qualiies and attributes that can be used to describe them.

Use "people-first" language and encourage others to do the same. For example, refer to the person as a person with Down syndrome," not the "Down syndrome person." A person with Down syndrome is not a "Down's."

Words create lasting impressions. Try not to use cliches when describing an individual with Down syndrome (such as "They're always happy."). To assume all people have the same characteristics or abilities is demeaning. Also, it reinforces the stereotype that all people with Down syndrome are the same. Each person has his/her own unique strengths, capabilities, and talents. Recognize that a child is "a child wuith Down syndrome," or that an adult is "an adult with Down syndrome." Children with DS grow into adults with DS; they do not remain eternal children. Adults enjoy activities and companionship with other adults. A 24 year old with DS certainly has 24 years of life experience!

Most people want to use correct language, but even professionals stumble in their attempt. Sharing a few basic reminders will put people at ease and create a positive atmosphere for acceptance of differences.

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